Samples from two deer taken during the hunting season in Allamakee County have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. DNR spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says it’s the third straight year CWD has been found in the eastern Iowa area.
Baskins says these two deer were in the same general vicinity that the infected deer have been found in the last two years. Three deer were found with CWD in Allamakee County last year and the northeast Iowa location leads Baskins to a couple of conclusions.
“One, there is at least a little hot spot in Iowa — that they are all congregated in that county in a relatively small area,” Baskins says. And he says it tells them something they expected all along — that deer infected with CWD in nearby Wisconsin could be making their way across the river into our state. “All along, even before Iowa had a deer test positive for CWD, that was an area of interest for us.”
Baskins says they don’t have positive proof that the CWD infected deer are tourists, but he says a lot of circumstantial evidence points to it. “I think you can draw a pretty clear line, when we have as many deer as we have in Wisconsin….that have tested positive for CWD, I think it’s not a huge leap to think that some of them have probably cross the river,” Baskins says. Another piece of evidence that the deer may not be from around here, is the special test hunt that was held in Allamakee County last year after the positive CWD tests came back.
“I believe we collected around 85 last year during that special season — and none of those deer tested positive at the time,” according to Baskins. If the deer with CWD are natives, Baskins says it is good that they are all in the same place. “We’re really hoping that we have an isolated area here and the harvest will prevent some of those deer that might be carrying CWD from spreading to other areas of the state,” Baskins says.
He says they are asking Iowans to keep an eye out for any deer which looks like it may be infected. Baskins says it’s easy to spot them. “That deer looks pretty emaciated, so if they do see one that seems very sickly, we would want to know about that and go out and investigate,” Baskins says. He says they are also still testing road kill deer in the Allamakee County looking for the disease. Baskins says they will be scheduling a public meeting in Allamakee County to talk about the latest positive tests.
CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk that’s caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head.
There is currently no evidence that humans contract CWD by eating venison.