Wednesday, August 05, 2009

WISCONSIN NEWS: Prevalence of CWD Jumps Up

The rate of chronic wasting disease infection in Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd increased last year.

The prevalence rate for adult bucks 2 1/2 years or older in the first epicenter of the outbreak, which covers mostly western Dane County and eastern Iowa County, increased from 10% in 2007 to 15.5% last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Natural Resources.

The infection rate for yearling bucks increased from 3% to 6% in the same period.

Chronic wasting disease was first discovered in Wisconsin in 2002. Since then, DNR officials have analyzed almost 152,000 deer, with 1,172 free-ranging deer testing positive for the always-fatal nervous system disease.

"Five to 10 years in the future, we will know better whether this was just a one-year blip on the chart or the beginning of a trend of increasing disease prevalence in Wisconsin," population ecologist Robert Rolley said in a statement.

Researchers used sophisticated statistical techniques that adjust for factors such as age and gender to estimate infection rates, which appear to vary randomly from one year to the next. But evidence points to a general trend of a 4% infection increase each year in Wisconsin.

Chronic wasting disease has been discovered in wild deer or elk herds in 11 states and two Canadian provinces. All of the infected free-ranging deer in Wisconsin have been found in two areas: the south-central region of Dane and Iowa counties, and a spot in southeastern Wisconsin that's part of a chronic wasting disease area in northern Illinois.

Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

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