Chronic wasting disease in deer prompts an FWC emergency order in North Florida
Wildlife officials say there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to humans or livestock, but federal health officials do not recommend eating meat from any sick animal.
The state is taking action after a positive test sample for chronic wasting disease was confirmed in the Florida Panhandle.
The disease was found in a 4-year-old female white-tailed deer that had been hit by a car in Holmes County.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it’s a contagious disease that could substantially reduce infected deer populations.
As a result, an executive order has been issued to protect against the possible spread of the disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. It is always fatal to deer and related animals like moose and elk.
The emergency order takes a series of steps, including the establishment of a disease management zone in portions of Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties. It also prohibits the rehabilitation or release of injured or orphaned white-tailed deer originating within the zone.
Wildlife officials say there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to humans or livestock. But, federal health officials do not recommend eating meat from any sick animal.
Here's the news release from FWC:
Following confirmation of a positive test sample for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Holmes County, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) have implemented management actions and an executive order to protect against the possible spread of CWD.
The FWC and its agency partners take CWD very seriously and have implemented a comprehensive response plan. As part of the plan, the FWC will collect samples from specific established zones to further assess the spread of the disease. The results from this initial sampling effort will inform resource managers so they can respond with appropriate management strategies.
The FWC has increased CWD monitoring and surveillance in the area and FDACS is prioritizing CWD testing from all samples collected from Holmes County.
In an executive order signed by FWC Executive Director Roger Young on June 19, new actions include:
- Establishment of a CWD Management Zone centered around the location of the positive sample. The CWD Management Zone includes the portions of Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties north of Interstate 10, east of State Road 81 and west of U.S. Highway 231. See a map of the CWD Management Zone.
- The prohibition of exporting whole cervid (deer) carcasses and high-risk carcass parts originating from the CWD Management Zone
- The prohibition of baiting or feeding deer within the CWD Management Zone with limited exceptions
- The prohibition of rehabilitating or releasing injured or orphaned white-tailed deer originating within the CWD Management Zone.
FDACS management actions to date include:
- Heightened review of transportation permits for intra-state captive cervids to or from captive cervid facilities within the CWD Management Zone.
- Increased communication with captive cervid facilities in the CWD Management Zone.
- Quarantine of all captive cervid facilities in the CWD Management Zone.
The Florida Department of Health has provided informational resources to all county health offices in the area and is integrated into the Unified Command to assist as necessary.
The purpose of these regulations is to help protect Florida’s white-tailed deer herd by reducing the potential spread of CWD within the CWD Management Zone and to other parts of the state.
Controlling the spread of CWD is difficult once it becomes established in a natural population. Because prions shed by infected deer persist in the environment, the best chance for controlling CWD is acting quickly after it’s been detected to prevent more animals from becoming infected.
CWD can be transmitted directly - from animal to animal - or indirectly from the environment. Multiple management strategies will be employed to control the spread of the disease.
The FWC is asking anyone who sees a sick, abnormally thin deer or finds a deer dead from unknown causes to call the CWD hotline, 866-CWD-WATCH (866-293-9282) and report the animal’s location.
Currently, there is no scientific evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans or livestock under natural conditions. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend consuming meat from animals that test positive for CWD or from any sick animal. The FWC provides information about precautions people should take when pursuing or handling deer that might have been exposed to CWD.
The FWC along with its partners - the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study - will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/CWD.
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