The first cases of chronic waste disease found in Idaho mules

The contagious, always fatal prion disease has never before been recorded in Gem State.

IDAHO COUNTY, Idaho – Two mules have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, marking the first time that the infectious prion disease has been confirmed in Idaho.

The bucks were killed by hunters in October in the Slate Creek drain near Lucile, Idaho County, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Both hunters were notified that their deer were infected, officials said.

The positive tests came on Tuesday.

“Although CWD has been known to exist in the western United States for over 40 years, it is the first time animals in Idaho have tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to deer, moose, elk and reindeer,” IDFG officials wrote in a press release Thursday. “The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has been notified, as have the Idaho Department of Agriculture, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that causes symptoms in animals, including excessive salivation, drooping head or ears, tremors, low body weight, and strange behaviors such as. no fear of people and lack of coordination. Fish and game, however, noted that deer and other animals can become infected months or years before they show symptoms.

CWD is always fatal and there are no treatments or vaccines.

Meat from animals with CWD should not be ingested by humans. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is unknown whether prions from a CWD-infected animal can spread to humans; from 2021, no known infections with chronic waste diseases in humans have been reported, but non-human primates such as monkeys have contracted the disease by eating infected meat.

“Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to prevent the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain,” CDC officials wrote.

According to the IDFG, samples from the infected mule were tested at the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and are currently being verified by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

Hunters can have their harvested deer, elk or elk tested by bringing the fresh or frozen head of their animal to any regional Fish and Game Office, where the lymph nodes will be removed and sent for testing. Meat and muscle tissue can not be tested for the disease, officials said.

The cycle for test results is four to six weeks.

Anyone hunting in Unit 14 is encouraged to have deer or elk they shoot for the disease tested. If you see an animal that appears to have CWD, ask Fish and Game to document its location, species, and sex, if known, and contact the nearest IDFG office without touching, killing, or disturbing the animal. .

For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease, click here.

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