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Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Outdoors
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Frequently Asked Questions
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
August 2008
What is CWD?
CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk. The disease belongs to a
family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. The
disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and produces small lesions that result in death. While
CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, there is no known relationship between
CWD and any other TSE of animals or people. For more information on CWD please visit this link:
(www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease).
Where has CWD been found?
The disease also has been diagnosed in commercial game farms in Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, South
Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, New York, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada and in an
elk herd in Korea. In Michigan, the disease was confirmed on 8/25/2008 in a Kent County deer breeding
facility.
The disease was long thought to be limited in the wild to a relatively small endemic area in northeastern
Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska, but it has recently been found in new areas
of these states, as well as in wild deer and elk in western South Dakota, and wild deer in northern Illinois,
south-central New Mexico, northeastern and central Utah, south-central and south-eastern Wisconsin,
central New York, north-east West Virginia, Kansas and west and south-central Saskatchewan. Also, a
CWD positive moose has recently been discovered in the endemic area of Colorado.
Where was the CWD deer in Michigan?
The deer was in a deer breeding facility in Kent County. The owner sent the culled deer to MDA for
required testing. The deer was a three-year-old white-tailed doe.
Now that CWD has been found in Michigan, what is the DNR and Michigan Department of Agriculture doing?
The DNR and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) are following the steps outlined in the
Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease, which was developed in 2002 to
address this nationally emerging disease. Since the development of the plan, DNR and MDA have had a
surveillance program in place to detect CWD in captive or wild cervids. In August 2008, CWD was
discovered on a privately owned cervid facility in Michigan. Confirmation of CWD in Michigan began the
implementation of the response aspect of the plan.
As outlined in the plan, the following steps have or will occur:
• The state has quarantined all POC facilities, prohibiting the movement of all -- dead or alive --
privately-owned deer, elk or moose.
• The DNR is working with landowners to collect deer from the vicinity of the facility to assess
whether CWD is present in free-ranging deer.
• A ban has been enacted to prevent all feeding and baiting of deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula
in an effort to reduce the possible spread of CWD.
• Possession of any wild free-ranging deer is now illegal. Taking an unhealthy deer from the
environment and attempting to rehabilitate it has the potential to increase the spread of CWD.
• A CWD surveillance zone has been established for the nine townships surrounding the privately
owned facility.
• For the 2008 deer hunting season, all deer harvested within the CWD surveillance zone must be
taken to one of the DNR deer check stations within the CWD surveillance zone.
• All deer harvested in this zone must be tested for CWD.
• For deer harvested in this CWD surveillance zone, only boned meat, cape and clean skull plates
with antlers may be removed from this nine township area.
• DNR employees will collect the head of all deer as they are brought in.
Where is the CWD Surveillance Zone?
The new CWD surveillance zone includes the townships of Tyrone, Solon, Nelson, Sparta, Algoma,
Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon, which are all located in Kent County.
Does CWD pose a health risk to humans?
CWD has never been shown to cause illness in humans. For more than two decades CWD has been
present in wild populations of mule deer and elk in Colorado. In this time there has been no known
occurrence of a human contracting any disease from eating CWD infected meat. However, public health
officials recommend that people not consume meat from deer that test CWD-positive. Some simple
precautions should be taken when field dressing deer in the CWD Surveillance Zone:
• Wear rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
• Bone out the meat from your deer.
• Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
• Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
• Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal
field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)
• Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat
from your animal.
Is the meat safe to eat?
While the agent that produces chronic wasting disease in deer and elk has not been positively identified,
there is strong evidence to suggest that abnormally shaped proteins, called prions are responsible.
Research completed to date indicate that the prions accumulate in certain parts of infected animals-the
brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen. Based on these findings, hunters are
recommended to not eat meat from animals known to be infected with CWD. Hunters in CWD areas are
also advised to bone out their meat and to not consume those parts where prions likely accumulate.
How can CWD be treated and controlled in wildlife?
There is no treatment for CWD; it is fatal in all cases to the members of the deer family that it infects.
CWD transmission can be controlled by limiting contact between infected and non-infected animals.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture are working to maintain
the integrity of Michigan’s white-tailed deer and elk herd. Surveillance, cervid importation restrictions,
and required CWD testing of suspect animals continue to be the key to CWD control.
Why should people outside of the CWD surveillance zones care about the disease?
Chronic wasting disease is a statewide issue. A healthy white-tailed deer population in Michigan is
important for the following reasons:
• Chronic wasting disease can spread through the deer herd.
• All deer infected with CWD die from the disease.
• White-tailed deer are native to Michigan and it is important to preserve our native wildlife.
• Any regional threat to a healthy deer population is a statewide concern.
• A healthy deer herd is important for hunting traditions. Michigan has more than 725,000 deer hunters
who have harvested an average of 450,000 deer annually during the past decade. Deer hunting
contributes more than 10 million days of recreation every year.
• Deer hunting annually generates more than $500 million dollars impact to the state’s economy. A
healthy deer herd is critical to the state's economy.
• Without appropriate management within the current CWD surveillance zone, the disease may spread
to other areas of the state.
How is CWD transmitted?
It is not fully understood how CWD is transmitted between deer. Data to date suggest that it may be
transmitted both directly through animal to animal contact as well as indirectly through a contaminated
environment. A recent study from Colorado State University, published in the journal Science, proved that
CWD prions exist in the saliva of infected deer. Additionally, a recent study from the University of
Wisconsin, Madison, suggests that the CWD prion can remain infectious for several years in certain types
of soil.
Can CWD be transmitted to livestock?
To date, there has been no documented occurrence of livestock contracting CWD from free-ranging deer
or elk. Further, in long-term studies where cattle have been housed in pens with CWD-infected deer and
elk, transmission has not occurred. In studies where cattle had CWD-positive material injected directly
into their brain, many of the cattle developed CWD. These experiments show that CWD can be
transmitted to cattle, but through a very unlikely and extreme route of exposure. In similar experiments
where cattle were fed brain material from CWD-infected deer and elk all animals have remained healthy.
Since it is hypothesized that animals are infected with CWD by the oral route, this set of experiments may
simulate a more natural route of exposure.
How can you tell if a deer has CWD?
Infected animals may not show any symptoms of the disease for a long period of time, even years. In the
later stages of the disease, however, infected animals begin to lose bodily functions and display abnormal
behavior such as staggering or standing with very poor posture. Animals may have an exaggerated wide
posture, or may carry the head and ears lowered. Infected animals become very emaciated (thus wasting
disease) and will appear in very poor body condition. Infected animals will also often stand near water
and will consume large amounts of water. Drooling or excessive salivation may be apparent. Note that
these symptoms may also be characteristic of diseases other than CWD.
What should I do if I see a deer that shows CWD symptoms?
You should accurately document the location of the animal and immediately and call the Rap Line (1-800-
292-7800). Do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal.
Where can I get more information on CWD?
For more information about how Michigan is working to prevent CWD from infecting Michigan's wild
cervid populations and control CWD in deer and elk facilities, see the Emerging Diseases Web site and in
particular the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD of Free-ranging and Privately
Owned/Captive Cervids Contingency Plan, which is located at (www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease).
 

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Registered
Joined
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947 Posts
Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Outdoors
www.michigan.gov/dnr
Frequently Asked Questions
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
August 2008
What is CWD?
CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk. The disease belongs to a
family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. The
disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and produces small lesions that result in death. While
CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, there is no known relationship between
CWD and any other TSE of animals or people.
For more information on CWD please visit this link:
(www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease).
Where has CWD been found?
The disease also has been diagnosed in commercial game farms in Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, South
Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, New York, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada and in an
elk herd in Korea. In Michigan, the disease was confirmed on 8/25/2008 in a Kent County deer breeding
facility.
The disease was long thought to be limited in the wild to a relatively small endemic area in northeastern
Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska, but it has recently been found in new areas
of these states, as well as in wild deer and elk in western South Dakota, and wild deer in northern Illinois,
south-central New Mexico, northeastern and central Utah, south-central and south-eastern Wisconsin,
central New York, north-east West Virginia, Kansas and west and south-central Saskatchewan. Also, a
CWD positive moose has recently been discovered in the endemic area of Colorado.
Where was the CWD deer in Michigan?
The deer was in a deer breeding facility in Kent County. The owner sent the culled deer to MDA for
required testing. The deer was a three-year-old white-tailed doe.
Now that CWD has been found in Michigan, what is the DNR and Michigan Department of Agriculture doing?
The DNR and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) are following the steps outlined in the
Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease, which was developed in 2002 to
address this nationally emerging disease. Since the development of the plan, DNR and MDA have had a
surveillance program in place to detect CWD in captive or wild cervids. In August 2008, CWD was
discovered on a privately owned cervid facility in Michigan. Confirmation of CWD in Michigan began the
implementation of the response aspect of the plan.
As outlined in the plan, the following steps have or will occur:
• The state has quarantined all POC facilities, prohibiting the movement of all -- dead or alive --
privately-owned deer, elk or moose.
• The DNR is working with landowners to collect deer from the vicinity of the facility to assess
whether CWD is present in free-ranging deer.
• A ban has been enacted to prevent all feeding and baiting of deer and elk in the Lower Peninsula
in an effort to reduce the possible spread of CWD.
• Possession of any wild free-ranging deer is now illegal. Taking an unhealthy deer from the
environment and attempting to rehabilitate it has the potential to increase the spread of CWD.
• A CWD surveillance zone has been established for the nine townships surrounding the privately
owned facility.
• For the 2008 deer hunting season, all deer harvested within the CWD surveillance zone must be
taken to one of the DNR deer check stations within the CWD surveillance zone.
• All deer harvested in this zone must be tested for CWD.
• For deer harvested in this CWD surveillance zone, only boned meat, cape and clean skull plates
with antlers may be removed from this nine township area.
• DNR employees will collect the head of all deer as they are brought in.
Where is the CWD Surveillance Zone?
The new CWD surveillance zone includes the townships of Tyrone, Solon, Nelson, Sparta, Algoma,
Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon, which are all located in Kent County.
Does CWD pose a health risk to humans?
CWD has never been shown to cause illness in humans. For more than two decades CWD has been
present in wild populations of mule deer and elk in Colorado. In this time there has been no known
occurrence of a human contracting any disease from eating CWD infected meat. However, public health
officials recommend that people not consume meat from deer that test CWD-positive. Some simple
precautions should be taken when field dressing deer in the CWD Surveillance Zone:
• Wear rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
• Bone out the meat from your deer.
• Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
• Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed. Good luck. There is nothing you can wash that will remove the prions. NOTHING.

• Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal
field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)
• Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat
from your animal.
Is the meat safe to eat? Hell yes!!
While the agent that produces chronic wasting disease in deer and elk has not been positively identified,
there is strong evidence to suggest that abnormally shaped proteins, called prions are responsible.
Research completed to date indicate that the prions accumulate in certain parts of infected animals-the
brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen. Based on these findings, hunters are
recommended to not eat meat from animals known to be infected with CWD. Hunters in CWD areas are
also advised to bone out their meat and to not consume those parts where prions likely accumulate.
How can CWD be treated and controlled in wildlife?
There is no treatment for CWD; it is fatal in all cases to the members of the deer family that it infects.
CWD transmission can be controlled by limiting contact between infected and non-infected animals.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture are working to maintain
the integrity of Michigan’s white-tailed deer and elk herd. Surveillance, cervid importation restrictions,
and required CWD testing of suspect animals continue to be the key to CWD control.
Why should people outside of the CWD surveillance zones care about the disease?
Chronic wasting disease is a statewide issue. A healthy white-tailed deer population in Michigan is
important for the following reasons:
• Chronic wasting disease can spread through the deer herd.
• All deer infected with CWD die from the disease. Absolutely NOT. This is a proven fact. There are carriers that NEVER go clinical. 99.9% of all CWD deer die of lead poisoning during the firearms season ;)
• White-tailed deer are native to Michigan and it is important to preserve our native wildlife.
• Any regional threat to a healthy deer population is a statewide concern.
• A healthy deer herd is important for hunting traditions. Michigan has more than 725,000 deer hunters
who have harvested an average of 450,000 deer annually during the past decade. Deer hunting
contributes more than 10 million days of recreation every year.
• Deer hunting annually generates more than $500 million dollars impact to the state’s economy.
A healthy deer herd is critical to the state's economy.
• Without appropriate management within the current CWD surveillance zone, the disease may spread to other areas of the state. I don't care what your do short of killing every deer, IT"S GONNA SPREAD!!
How is CWD transmitted?
It is not fully understood how CWD is transmitted between deer. BINGO!!

Data to date suggests That is the best they can do. that it may be
transmitted both directly through animal to animal contact as well as indirectly through a contaminated
environment. A recent study from Colorado State University, published in the journal Science, proved that
CWD prions exist in the saliva of infected deer. Additionally, a recent study from the University of
Wisconsin, Madison, suggests that the CWD prion can remain infectious for several years in certain types
of soil.
Can CWD be transmitted to livestock?
To date, there has been no documented occurrence of livestock contracting CWD from free-ranging deer YATZEE!!
or elk. Further, in long-term studies where cattle have been housed in pens with CWD-infected deer and
elk, transmission has not occurred. In studies where cattle had CWD-positive material injected directly
into their brain, many of the cattle developed CWD. These experiments show that CWD can be
transmitted to cattle, but through a very unlikely and extreme route of exposure. In similar experiments
where cattle were fed brain material from CWD-infected deer and elk all animals have remained healthy.
Since it is hypothesized that animals are infected with CWD by the oral route, this set of experiments may
simulate a more natural route of exposure.
How can you tell if a deer has CWD? You cant until a test is done on the dead deer
Infected animals may not show any symptoms of the disease for a long period of time, even years. Even longer than that since some NEVER go clinical. In the
later stages of the disease, however, infected animals begin to lose bodily functions and display abnormal
behavior such as staggering or standing with very poor posture. Animals may have an exaggerated wide
posture, or may carry the head and ears lowered. Infected animals become very emaciated (thus wasting
disease) and will appear in very poor body condition. Infected animals will also often stand near water
and will consume large amounts of water. Drooling or excessive salivation may be apparent. Note that
these symptoms may also be characteristic of diseases other than CWD.
What should I do if I see a deer that shows CWD symptoms?
You should accurately document the location of the animal and immediately and call the Rap Line (1-800-
292-7800). Do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal.
Where can I get more information on CWD?
For more information about how Michigan is working to prevent CWD from infecting Michigan's wild
cervid populations Good luck! and control CWD in deer and elk facilities, Now that you actually can do and should do.see the Emerging Diseases Web site and in
particular the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD of Free-ranging and Privately
Owned/Captive Cervids Contingency Plan, which is located at (www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease).
This is all atraight from the CWD committe I sat on.
 
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