Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Brooks County Deer Breeding Facility

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AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) received notification of a new case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a deer-breeding facility in Brooks County. This marks the first detection of the disease in the county and the ninth CWD-positive breeding facility in the state detected in 2023.

A five-year-old doe detected with CWD was transferred in 2022 from a facility in Frio County newly discovered to be positive for CWD. In this case, TPWD regulations required euthanization and testing for CWD as part of the epidemiological investigation.

Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station initially analyzed postmortem samples, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the CWD detection.

CWD has an incubation period that can span years, meaning the first indication in a herd may likely come through surveillance testing rather than observed clinical signs. Early detection and proactive monitoring improve the state’s response time to the detection of CWD 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 irreversible disease process continues, 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 and CWD best management practices for hunters and landowners, visit TPWD’s CWD page.

The recently updated TPWD CWD webpage includes a map of all CWD zones, check stations and positive case tracking. This webpage can be utilized to find answers to frequently asked questions, view videos with information from wildlife veterinarians and review the latest news. Additional information regarding TAHC requirements, CWD zones, disease information and details pertaining to susceptible exotic species can be found on the TAHC CWD webpage.