USU leads the way in Chronic Wasting Disease testing

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?It may not be as bad or as commonly known as mad cow disease but deer, elk and moose carry a similar disease called chronic wasting disease. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has similar effects on the animal. Dr. Tom Baldwin, the Director of Utah State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said CWD causes the animal to rub themselves on objects such as fences, trees and other objects. They also stop eating.Dr. Baldwin says a different form of this disease happens in a few animals. It at least takes place in cows, deer, sheep and mink. The thing that makes mad cow disease more fatal than the diseases coming from the other animals is humans can pick up a certain form of mad cow disease. There are no documented cases where humans have gotten sick from CWD.USU does all of the testing in the state for this disease in sheep, which is called scrapie, and all the testing for CWD. Since 2002, nearly 19,000 deer have been tested in the state of Utah. Of those 19,000 deer that have been tested, only 54 tested positive for CWD. Most of these deer were in Central and Southern Utah. Only six of the deer were in Northeastern Utah. To date there has been one elk and no moose testing positive for CWD.CWD has existed from anywhere from 30 to 40 years. It is not known where CWD came from. This might not be important unless it could help defeat the disease. It is believed it could be possible that CWD came from a spinoff of scrapie that has been recognized in the United States since 1947.CWD is a very slow progressing disease. For this reason it’s hard to track where the animal actually got the disease from. Dr. Baldwin said they can have it for more than a year before the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory might know the animal is even infected with it. Even if the laboratory discovers the animal is infected there unfortunately isn’t much they can do. At the current moment, doctors aren’t aware of a cure to heal the animal.

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