Chronic Wasting Disease discovered at Gillespie County deer breeding facility

FILE - A whitetail deer looks for food in the woods.

Tissue samples from a deer breeding facility in Gillespie County have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, says Texas Parks and Wildlife.

TPWD is working with the Texas Animal Health Commission to determine the source and extent of the detection, the first positive one for CWD in Gillespie County.

TPWD says that a one-year-old white-tailed deer was found dead on the premises and tissue samples were collected and submitted as part of a required CWD surveillance program. Two veterinary laboratories, one in College Station and one in Iowa, confirmed CWD in those tissue samples in August.

Immediate action has been taken to secure all deer at the facility and there are plans underway to conduct additional CWD investigations. Additionally, other breeding facilities that received deer or shipped deer to this facility within the last five years have been identified and placed under movement restrictions.

According to TPWD, CWD, which was first recognized in captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, has been documents in captive and/or free ranging deer in 30 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Texas has seen 376 captive or free-ranging cervids — including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer and elk — in 15 counties test positive for CWD. 

CWD is a fatal neurological disease found in certain cervids, including deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family. The disease is highly transmissible and can remain infectious on the landscape for several years. If left unmanaged, CWD can have long-term impacts on the native deer herd and local economies, says TPWD.

Clinical signs may include:

  • Progressive weight loss
  • Stumbling or tremors with a lack of coordination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Salivation or urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Teeth grinding
  • Abnormal head posture
  • Drooping ears

These signs may not become evident until long after animals have become infected. Therefore, testing is the best tool available for detecting CWD at an early stage and containing it with appropriate management strategies, says TPWD.

To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids, says TPWD. However, as a precaution, the CDC and the WHO recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

For more information about CWD, visit the TPWD website or the TAHC website.