New case of CWD discovered in P.A. district
While there have been no new cases of swamp fever or Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) found in the province since May 25, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently announced that there has been one new case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) confirmed within the past month.
CWD is a progressive, fatal nervous system disease known to naturally infect white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, moose and elk. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
It is only the second case of CWD found this year, but both have been found in the Prince Albert district – which stretches approximately from Spiritwood to the Manitoba border. This is one of the three areas where the disease is present in the wild; the others are in the northwest and the southwest parts of the province.
“In those three areas we have a lot of the disease in the wild and then it tends to spill over into farm animals, and in this case it was in that northeast area,” explained Alex McIsaac, a disease control veterinarian with the CFIA.
The latest animal that tested positive was an Elk, and because there is no known treatment or cure for this relatively new disease there is an eradication policy in place when dealing with any possible outbreak.
“That is what happened in this case, if there were any others there that could potentially be shedding it or passing it along, they are removed and eliminated,” McIsaac said.
Chronic Wasting Disease was identified as a clinical disease in a captive mule deer at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Foothills Wildlife Research Facility in 1967. It wasn’t until 1996 that the disease was first discovered in Saskatchewan.
“There have been 68 premises all across Canada that have been involved with this disease, 66 have been in Saskatchewan and two have been in Alberta,” noted McIsaac.
“This is a Saskatchewan disease pretty much right now.”
No one is sure where the disease first came from or whether it was brought up from the U.S. and through monitoring the CFIA has noticed the disease begin to spread from Saskatchewan into Alberta.
Its symptoms include weight loss, depression, excess salvation and difficulty swallowing. If travelling in a pack, they’ll usually be off by themselves because the other animals have shunned them and they will also suffer from chronic weight loss.
There is no scientific research that shows CWD can be transmitted to humans, but it is recommended that any tissue coming from an infected animal not be used or consumed by humans.
“As far as we know, CWD cannot affect humans, but we’re not positive on that yet,” McIsaac said.
“Most of the research to date shows that it probably does not affect humans and it is species specific.”
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