LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has confirmed two cases of chronic wasting disease at two separate farmed deer facilities – one in Mecosta County and the other in Montcalm County.
The two infected deer, a two-year-old and a four-year-old, were discovered through routine testing as part of the state’s surveillance program for farmed deer, according to a news release Wednesday.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
It can be transmitted directly from one animal to another, as well as indirectly through the environment.
While an infected deer may seem healthy for months or years, it will eventually show abnormal behavior, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation in the later stages of the disease, MDARD said.
Since 2008 – and including these two new cases – chronic wasting disease has been detected at eight Michigan deer farms in Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties.
With free-ranging deer, chronic wasting disease was first discovered in May 2015, and cases have been found across nine counties in Michigan.
As of August 2021, no free-ranging white-tailed deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Mecosta County, but the disease has been detected in 123 free-ranging deer in Montcalm County.
“Since chronic wasting disease can significantly impact all Michigan deer, it is vitally important to detect the disease as early as possible,” State Veterinarian Nora Wineland said. “Early detection allows MDARD and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to work in collaboration with farmers and hunters to stem the spread and manage this serious disease.”
Investigations are being conducted to rule out exposure to any other farmed deer.
There haven’t been any reported cases of chronic wasting disease in humans, but the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization don’t recommend eating any infected animals, as a precaution.