Texas deer positive for chronic wasting disease

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Two mule deer in far-west Texas have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Texas Animal Health Commission announced July 10.

It is the first time CWD has been confirmed in Texas deer. Wildlife officials believe the disease, one of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, is isolated in a remote region of Texas near New Mexico where CWD was discovered a decade ago.

After three mule deer in the Hueco Mountains in New Mexico tested positive for CWD earlier this year, wildlife officials commenced a focused surveillance program testing deer on the Texas side of the shared mountain range. Tissue samples were collected from 31 mule deer in that region, and the disease was confirmed in two deer harvested in El Paso and Hudspeth counties.

“Now that we have detected CWD in Texas, our primary objective is to contain this disease,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “Working collaboratively with experts in the field, we have developed protocols to address CWD, and implementation is already under way.”

Wildlife officials do not know how long chronic wasting disease has been in Texas or whether it has spread to other parts of the state. Texas has had an active CWD surveillance program for more than a decade. More than 26,500 wild deer and 7,400 captive deer in the state have tested negative for the disease since 2002.