Chronic Wasting Disease Testing

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State officials say a deer killed in Marinette County had preliminary indicators of Chronic Wasting Disease on three different tests before a state test ruled out the disease.

The deer was killed last July on a far west of Crivitz far from where the disease has shown up before.

The man who shot it submitted it for testing because he thought it smelled funny. But the discrepancy in tests has prompted critics to raise questions about the state's handling of the disease.

They say the findings may provide early evidence the ailment exists beyond southern Wisconsin. State wildlife experts say such claims are unfounded. Extended Web Coverage

Chronic Wasting Disease

  • To date, chronic wasting disease has been found only in members of the deer family in North America. Animals include: Rocky Mountain Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed deer.

  • There is ongoing research to explore the possibility of transmission of chronic wasting disease to other species.

Clinical Signs

  • Most cases of chronic wasting disease occur in adult animals.

  • The disease is progressive and always fatal.

  • The most obvious and consistent clinical sign of chronic wasting disease is weight loss over time.

  • Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals.

What Causes chronic wasting disease?

  • The agent responsible for chronic wasting disease has not been completely characterized.

  • There are three main theories on the nature of the agent that causes chronic wasting disease:
    • The agent is a prion, an abnormal form of a normal protein, known as cellular prion protein, most commonly found in the central nervous system.

    • The agent is an unconventional virus.

    • The agent is a virino, or "incomplete" virus composed of nucleic acid protected by host proteins. The chronic wasting disease agent is smaller than most viral particles and does not evoke any detectable immune response or inflammatory reaction in the host animal.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture contributed to this report.