On Friday the Montana Department of Livestock reported that a single game farm elk in eastern Montana has been confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
The disease has not been identified in domestic cervids in Montana since 1999.
The CWD positive animal was found as a result of surveillance required by the United States Department of Agriculture CWD Herd Certification Program which requires all deaths in captive animals greater than 12 months of age be tested.
The affected animal appeared healthy and was slaughtered for meat.
The infection was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa through the identification of the prion in tissue samples collected from the animal.
The Department placed the herd under quarantine and is conducting an epidemiological investigation.
“An epidemiological investigation will be conducted, but at this time, the source of the disease is unknown,” stated State Veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski. “We will look at historical elk movements associated with this captive herd and proximity to infected wildlife to try to determine the source of exposure.”
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has documented CWD in wild cervids across much of Montana through surveillance that began in 2017. In 2019, approximately 7,000 wild deer, elk, and moose were sampled statewide, with 140 testing positive for CWD
There is no known transmission of CWD to humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters harvesting an animal in areas with a known CWD presence have their animal tested. If the animal tests positive, the CDC advises against eating the meat.
For more information on the Montana Department of Livestock, visit their website.