Chronic Wasting Disease
Angie Auel, Naturalist
CWD has been diagnosed in captive deer in Iowa. Symptoms of CWD in captive deer include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, teeth grinding, holding the head in a lowered position and drooping ears.
How is CWD Transmitted?
The mode of transmission between deer or elk is not completely understood. However, it is thought that the disease is transmitted from direct contact between animals in a herd. Environmental factors such as heat does not easily kill the disease causing prion, so transmission from a contaminated environment may also be possible.
How is CWD Diagnosed?
Brain samples are collected from hunter harvested or dead deer and are examined microscopically using special stains to identify the CWD prion.
Is CWD Transmissible to Humans?
A World Health Organization panel of experts reviewed all available information on CWD and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans.
Is CWD a Risk for Iowa’s Livestock?
There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted under natural conditions to cattle.
Is it Safe to Eat Venison from Iowa Deer?
There is no scientific evidence that CWD is transmissible through consumption of meat from an infected animal. The National Institute of Health recommends that hunters do not eat the brain, eyeballs, or spinal cord of deer, and that hunters wear protective gloves while field dressing game.
How can I help?
The Iowa DNR tests a minimum of 15 deer samples per county. However, because of the location of CWD in neighboring states or because of other deer herd issues, the DNR has selected ten counties that need a minimum of 100 samples: Mitchell, Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, Jackson, Appanoose, Wayne, and Buchanan.
If you hunt deer in Buchanan County or any other counties listed above, and you would be willing to let the DNR collect a sample from your hunted deer, please contact DNR Wildlife Biologist, Jason Auel, prior to butchering or taking the deer to the locker. Fawns are not accepted because deer must be 18 months or older. DNR staff will arrange a time to meet you at your location and will either collect the entire head or collect the brain stem and lympnoids. DNR staff will need to know location of where the deer was killed.
You can call the the DNR Biologist Jason Auel at 319-213-2815 or NE District Office at 563-927-3276. Your willingness to help is appreciated!