Source of Chronic Wasting Disease Outbreak Confirmed in Iowa

whitetail

Nearly 80 percent of a captive deer herd in north-central Iowa tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), according to results released by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) on October 2. The captive herd was quarantined in July 2012, after a whitetail buck harvested on a nearby hunting preserve tested positive for the disease. The buck had just been introduced to the preserve from the deer farm, and five of the state's first seven confirmed CWD cases were later linked to that same farm, according to The Gazette. The herd was depopulated in August 2014.

Of the 356 captive deer, 284 tested positive for CWD. According to The Des Moines Register, the deer farm owners qualified for $1.4 million in federal assistance to cover costs associated with depopulation, and $917,100 would be available to the owners after the farm had been cleaned and disinfected. The owners have also agreed to maintain an 8-foot fence around the herd premises for five years from the time of the depopulation and cleaning.

The IDALS operates a voluntary CWD program for farms that sell live animals, and currently 145 Iowa farms participate. The recently depopulated farm had left the voluntary program before the discovery of the outbreak, because they'd stopped selling the animals. All deer harvested in a hunting preserve must be tested for CWD, and a DNR spokesperson said there will be increased CWD surveillance efforts in the area.