A case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was confirmed last week at a deer-breeding facility in Washington County.

According to a release from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), the case was detected through live animal testing conducted prior to the deer’s transfer to a registered release site.  The case is the first detection of the disease in Washington County.

TPWD and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials have taken action to secure all deer at the facility and will work together to perform additional investigations into the extent of the disease there and prevent it from spreading further. 

David Forrester, TPWD - District 7 Leader, says the facility in question is located on the north side of the county, but could not provide a more specific location.  Describing CWD, he says it is a degenerative disease that can severely inhibit a deer’s neurological function.  It is ultimately fatal and does not have a treatment or vaccine.

Right now, there is no evidence that the disease can infect humans, but since it affects the animal’s lymph nodes and nervous system, Forrester recommends avoiding eating parts of the deer that are closely tied to them, like bone marrow.

According to TPWD, when deer-breeding facilities have a positive case, movement is shut down and a trace-out investigation is done to see everywhere that deer from the facility have gone or been sold to, typically over a five-year period. 

Samples were submitted to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station and were later sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where the presence of CWD was confirmed.

Forrester says TAHC is currently considering new proposals for ways to address these cases.  The rules, which would apply for when a positive case is confined to a breeding facility, will go out for public comment before potentially being adopted in May. 

Once deer season approaches, Forrester says public meetings will be held to remind hunters of the situation and the precautions they need to take. 

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