St. Paul, Minnesota — After more than 12 months of tracing and testing, the
Minnesota Board of Animal Health has completed its Chronic Wasting Disease
(CWD) investigation in Minnesota’s farmed elk.
Since the investigation began, 332 elk were euthanized and tested in
Minnesota and 77 elk were euthanized or quarantined in other states.
Producers were compensated for their animals through an indemnity program
administered by the Veterinary Services division of the U.S. Department of
Minnesota Board of Animal Health Assistant Director Paul Anderson said the
investigation was a success.
“Staff members from the Board, USDA Veterinary Services and the University
of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have worked tremendously hard
to trace and test all of the animals involved in this CWD investigation,”
said Anderson. “But, the speed and accuracy at which all of this took place
could not have happened without the cooperation and dedication of the
Minnesota elk producers.”
The first Minnesota case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was identified on
August 30, 2002. The disease was found in a five-year-old bull elk on a
farm near Aitkin. The animal had been ill for several months and died with
symptoms typical of CWD.
An investigation was initiated by the Board to locate, euthanize and test
all other cervidae that might have been exposed to the disease. The process
involved 51 Minnesota elk herds and 28 herds in other states. Exposed
animals were traced to Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
During the investigation, two more elk tested positive for CWD. One was
found on January 15, 2003. It was a three-year-old elk cow from a farm near
Sauk Centre, Minnesota. This animal was euthanized and was not ill at the
time of its death. The other was found in March 2003. This animal was a
seven-year-old elk cow located on a farm near Valders, Wisconsin.
The source of the infection was not determined, but the three CWD-infected
elk did have a connection. All three were housed on the Sauk Centre,
Minnesota, farm during the summer of 2000. Clinical histories for the elk
strongly suggest that exposure may have occurred during this period of
time. The timing from exposure to development of clinical symptoms in all
three of the animals is consistent with a normal incubation period for CWD
in elk, which is between 16 to 34 months.
Anderson said the Board is currently working with producers to help them
understand and comply with the 2003 Minnesota legislation requiring
cervidae registration with the Board and mandatory CWD-surveillance.