LANESBORO, Minn. – Results show two deer recently harvested by Minnesota hunters were infected with chronic wasting disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. While it is found in deer in states bordering Minnesota, it was only found in one other wild deer in Minnesota in 2010.
The male deer were both killed near Lanesboro during the first firearms deer season. It is unknown how they contracted the disease. Out of 2,493 samples collected Nov. 5-13, these two deer were the only ones to test positive and were harvested about 1 mile apart.
Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, says hunter and landowner cooperation on disease surveillance is key to keeping the state’s deer herd healthy.
“We were proactively looking for the disease, a proven strategy that allows us to manage CWD by finding it early, reacting quickly and aggressively to control it and hopefully eliminating its spread,” he said in a news release.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat, but the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have the disease.
With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters can take these precautions:
- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
- Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
- Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
- 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 a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
- If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.
The DNR has been on the lookout for the disease since 2002 when it was first detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years, it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected and it has also been detected in Iowa’s Allamakee County.
The disease is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. It also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. According to the DNR, the movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.