The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said there are confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed and mule deer in the state.

Cases of disease have been found in three white-tailed deer in in Medina, Dallam and Hartley counties, and in three mule deer in Hudspeth, Hartley and El Paso counties.

These discoveries, the department said, underscore the importance of aggressive detection, sampling and herd management to control the disease.

CWD is a transmissible form of spongiform encephalopathy that is known to mainly affect deer.

The Centers for Disease Control said more studies are need about the possibility of transmission to humans, and they urge hunters to not eat CWD-harboring tissue – such as brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes – of deer or elk in CWD-infected areas.

The affected white-tailed deer in Medina County was harvested by a hunter on a private ranch near a deer-breeding facility where CWD had been confirmed earlier.

Each of the new confirmations occurred in a county where CWD had previously been detected.

In 2018, 49 cases of CWD were confirmed in permitted breeder facilities, and eight cases were confirmed in animals taken outside of a breeder facility or related release site.

So far, with only two exceptions, the cases of CWD in the south-central Texas area were limited to breeder facilities or nearby release sites.

The facilities in Medina County where CWD was confirmed, are under plans that require before-death testing to detect and remove disease-positive animal to reduce exposure to others.

In the Trans-Pecos area, the affected animals were taken close to the border with New Mexico, a state where CWD had previously been discovered.

These latest discoveries come just after a CWD Symposium hosted by TPWD, Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

During the two-day event in December 2018, about 200 landowners, deer enthusiasts, scientists and representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies around the country came together to share data and to discuss best practices to address the spread of CWD.

Early action to investigate CWD, limit deer movement and early testing were stressed during the gathering.

“Case studies in other states which are dealing with CWD reaffirm that doing nothing is plainly not an option,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, TPWD wildlife veterinarian, “The outlook in those states where little or no action was taken does not look good.

“In contrast, Texas has committed to a more proactive approach that moves quickly to control the disease, where discovered, by limiting the movement of deer exposed to infected deer, and by reducing or eliminating deer where the disease is proven to exist.”

Hunters who harvest mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer or sika deer within the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle and South-Central Texas CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones are required to to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest.

The department also urges hunters who take a deer outside of a CWD containment or surveillance zone to help by providing voluntary samples.

Those stations can be found at tpwd.texas.gov.

Hunters are also encouraged to report to TPWD any “sick-looking” mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, or sika deer.

To report a possibly sick animal, contact a TPWD wildlife biologist or Texas game warden.

Additional information about CWD, including carcass movement restrictions and check station locations can be found online. 

“We are very appreciative of the effort and cooperation that has been put forth by the vast majority of landowners, hunters and local officials across the state,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director.

SOURCE LINK: https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2019/01/04/tpwd-confirms-cases-chronic-wasting-disease-texas-deer/2483065002/