MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. — For the last 50 years, researchers have been studying Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and other animals among the Cervidae family.
Montcalm County is considered one of the hot spots where CWD is prevalent.
Now it's been found in a deer farm in Montcalm County instead of in a wild herd.
"It literally eats away at the brain, so you literally get these holes in the brain; so it shuts down functions within the brain; so that's why you see the end stages of this disease a very emaciated animal." Ashley Autenrieth, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Deer Program Biologist said. "Typically drooling, very poor looking condition and it really isn't aware of its surroundings anymore."
"What went from finding it in Colorado has now expanded 50 years later to 24 states within the united states and two Canadian provinces," Autenrieth said.
The DNR regularly tests deer for CWD.
"We've tested over 60,000 deer and we have I believe 118 positive cases to date," Autenrieth said.
68 of those 118 were from this past hunting season. Recently, a deer from a Montcalm County deer farm tested positive.
"That's very different from the wild herd so we do have chronic wasting disease within our wild herd in Montcalm County but now it's basically been confirmed within a privately owned Cervid facility," Autenrieth said.
The disease is contracted through bodily fluids, however not much research has been done concerning fawns.
"In terms of the fawns, that's not something we need to be concerned about at this point in time," Autenrieth said. "I don't know that there is research out there yet that has looked to see what the chances are that a doe that gives birth that is Chronic Wasting Disease positive, whether or not that fawn - I don't think we know yet."
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that humans can contract CWD by eating an infected deer. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you not to consume an animal that has tested positive.
The DNR encourages hunters to test their game prior to processing it. It's a free testing done by the state.
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