NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has confirmed West Michigan’s first case of chronic wasting disease of 2023.
MDARD reports CWD was confirmed in a 4-year-old white-tailed deer at a farm facility in Newaygo County.
“Limiting the spread and impact of CWD on Michigan’s farmed cervid herds hinges on the ability to detect the disease early and respond promptly,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in a statement. “While regular CWD surveillance testing is central to accomplishing this goal, MDARD’s continued partnership with herd owners, hunters and other state and federal partners is also crucial to effectively managing the disease.”
The Newaygo County case is West Michigan’s first and Michigan’s second of the year.
MDARD found 29 positive deer in 2022, up from 25 in 2021 and 20 in 2020.
Chronic wasting disease is a deadly neurological disease that currently has no cure. It affects cervid species, like deer, elk and moose. It can be transmitted directly between animals and indirectly through the environment. The common symptoms can take months to appear, including progressive weight loss, abnormal behavior and physical debilitation.
A study published in August 2022 by researchers at the University of Calgary claims to have found what triggers CWD. It focused on prions, a misshapen protein that triggers the degenerative neurological condition. The study manipulated the misshapen proteins in mice to mimic human gene expressions and found similar results.
Still, researchers say that although it may be possible, it is highly unlikely that an infected deer would transmit the disease to a human.
“Even though there is potential to transmit to humans, the barrier is really high. So, it’s not a very efficient process,” researcher Dr. Sabine Gilch told CTV.