Deer disease detected for first time in area county

December 19, 2018

LINCOLN — The presence of chronic wasting disease in deer has been detected for the first time in North Central Nebraska in Keya Paha County as well as in Valley County in the central part of the state.

The Nebraska Games and Parks Commission conducted chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling operations at deer check stations in some of its management units during the November firearm deer season.

There were 131 positives from 1,208 deer sampled in the Pine Ridge, Plains, Sandhills, Keya Paha, Calamus West and Loup West management units. Only mule deer were sampled in the Pine Ridge, Plains and Sandhills units, while only whitetails were sampled in the Keya Paha, Calamus West and Loup West units.

“The goal of this effort is to assess the spread and prevalence of the disease through periodic testing in each region of the state, which in turn helps biologists predict when and if future effects on deer numbers may occur,” said Todd Nordeen, the commission’s big game research and disease program manager.

Although present in Colorado and Wyoming for several decades, CWD was first discovered in Nebraska in 2000 in Kimball County. Since 1997, commission staff have tested nearly 53,000 deer and found 630 that tested positive. CWD has now been found in 42 Nebraska counties, but no population declines attributable to the disease have been identified.

CWD attacks the brain of an infected deer and elk, eventually causing emaciation, listlessness, excessive salivation and death. It is generally thought that CWD is transmitted from animal to animal through exchange of body fluids, but other modes of transmission may exist.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no person is known to have contracted CWD; however, hunters should cautiously handle and process deer and avoid consuming animals that test positive or look sick.

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Want to learn more?

Learn more about CWD at OutdoorNebraska.gov/cwd/.

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