Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in a Free-Range Deer in Bexar County

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AUSTIN—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) received notification of a new case of Chronic Wasting Disease in a free-range white-tailed deer in Bexar County.

TPWD will implement disease containment measures and provide recommendations on mitigating disease transmission in the city of Hollywood Park, where the positive deer was captured in late January as part of an effort to reduce overabundant deer populations.

Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station analyzed postmortem samples, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa provided a “CWD positive” confirmation.

 TPWD will hold community meetings this summer to discuss disease mitigation actions, CWD zone establishment and what that means to residents in this area of Bexar County.

CWD has an incubation period that can span years, meaning the first indication in a herd may likely come through testing rather than observed clinical signs. Early detection and proactive monitoring improve the state’s response time to a disease outbreak and can greatly reduce the risk of further disease spread.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease found in certain cervids including deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family. This slow, progressive disease may not produce visible signs in susceptible species for several years after infection. As the disease progresses, animals with CWD may show changes in behavior and appearance. Clinical signs may include progressive weight loss, stumbling or tremors with a lack of coordination, loss of appetite, teeth grinding, abnormal head posture and/or drooping ears, and excessive thirst, salivation or urination.

In Texas, the disease was first discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer along a remote area of the Hueco Mountains near the Texas-New Mexico border. CWD has since been detected in Texas captive and free-ranging cervids, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer and elk. For more information on previous detections in Texas, visit TPWD’s CWD page.

To date there are no known cases where humans have been infected with CWD through consumption of venison, but recent research suggests that this route of CWD transmission to humans should not be ruled out. As a precaution, it is recommended that hunters test harvested cervid species for CWD and not consume the meat of infected animals.

For more information about CWD, visit the TPWD CWD page.