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State confirms 2 farmed elk in Kent County have chronic wasting disease

Man faces charges after elk poached in Michigan forest
Posted at 11:26 AM, Nov 18, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed Thursday two cases of chronic wasting disease in elk from a farmed cervid facility in Kent County.

Both infected elk – a two-and-a-half-year-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old – were discovered through disease tracing efforts that resulted from finding the disease in a different Michigan farmed cervid here, according to a news release.

These are the first cases of chronic wasting disease in Michigan elk.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects different cervid species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

It can be transmitted directly from one animal to another and indirectly through the environment.

While an infected animal may seem healthy for months or even years, it will eventually display abnormal behavior, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation in the later stages of the disease.

“The discovery of chronic wasting disease in elk housed at a facility linked to a positive animal is not surprising,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said. “MDARD’s main priority is to limit the spread of this disease by working together with other state departments, farmers and ranchers. These findings underscore how important it is to pay attention to CWD and the movement of animals that may allow the disease to spread.”

Since 2008, CWD has been detected at nine Michigan cervid farms in Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties. That includes the two recent cases, MDARD said.

As part of the state’s disease response, investigations continue to rule out any possible exposure to other farmed cervids.