MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — State wildlife officials say two Minnesota deer farms received deer from a Wisconsin farm where chronic wasting disease was reportedly detected last month.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that the news was “extremely concerning.” Commissioner Sarah Strommen said the department is “actively considering management responses” to this threat to the state’s wild deer population.
A recent report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said that the Wisconsin deer farm where the disease was detected sold nearly 400 deer to 40 farms across seven states in the past five years. Two of those farms were in Minnesota.
One was at a now-defunct farm in Stillwater, which received two deer in 2016. Those deer were transferred to a now out of business farm in Grand Meadow before being transferred back to Wisconsin in 2019. Investigators are working to determine if those deer are still alive and have been tested.
The other Minnesota farm to receive deer from the contaminated farm was in Clear Lake. Officials say that the farm received three deer from the Wisconsin farm in 2017. Two of the deer were killed earlier this year, and the disease was not detected in them. The third deer is still alive, and the owner is awaiting payment prior to making the animal available for testing. Currently, the farm’s entire herd is under quarantine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it can take over a year before animals infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) show symptoms, which include stumbling, listlessness and dramatic weight loss, hence the name.
CWD, a prion disease, is always fatal to animals it infects. There are no treatment or vaccines.
While it’s currently known to affect deer, reindeer and moose, studies suggest it could pose a risk to non-human primates, such as monkeys, if they eat meat from infected animals. The World Health Organization has recommended that it’s important to keep all known prior diseases from entering the food chain.
Prion diseases are rare neurogenerative disorders believed to be caused by prions, or pathogenic agents that cause abnormal folding of cellular proteins most abundantly found in the brain. The abnormal folding leads to brain damage, which progresses rapidly until death.