The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working to isolate the source of the Chronic Wasting Disease that has now been found in five captive deer in Pottawatamie County. The first case of C-W-D was found in a captive deer in Davis County, and D.N.R. spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says there is a link between the deer and a breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County.

“The initial one that we found in July that was on a shooting preserve came from the breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County. And three of the five deer that were found in Pottawattamie County came from the Cerro Gordo County facility,” according to Baskins. He says they are now trying to determine if any more animals are infected.

“That’s what we’re working on right now, is what they call trace backs, tyring to figure out where these different deer came from, where they were moved to and from, where they originated,” Baskins explains. “To see if we can trace back maybe where the original source of the C-W-D came from as well as if other herds may have been affected.”

C-W-D is a fatal disease to deer that has been found in the wild populations of deer in several surrounding states, but has never been found in the wild population of deer in Iowa. Baskins says the discovery in the captive population raises the concern C-W-D might have gotten into the wild.

“It certainly is a possibility and that’s something we’re going to be increasing our surveillance on. As we get into the hunting season now we are going to be working with landowners and hunters in the immediate areas particularly the one down in Davis County to try to get as many samples as we can within a five-mile radius, because that would be where we would first detect it in the wild,” Baskins says.

The Cerro Gordo facility is currently under quarantine, meaning live animals are not allowed to come or go from the operation. He says all of the animals that tested positive for C-W-D were put down, as there is not way to test live animals for the disease. The D.N.R. says C-W-D is a neurological disease that only affects deer, elk and moose.

It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which affects the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs of the disease include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head.