ST PAUL, Minn. — Editors note: The video above first aired in Dec. of 2018.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health is expressing concern about the deadly spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) after infections from a Beltrami County deer farm were found in other parts of the state and beyond.
A deer in the Beltrami County herd tested positive in April for the fatal, brain-wasting disease. As a result, 54 deer at the farm were killed and 12 tested positive for CWD.
Following the discovery of the initial positive case in the Beltrami County herd, deer remains from that farm were discovered on adjacent county-managed land, which elevates the risk of CWD for wild deer in the area. Researchers from the DNR and University of Minnesota immediately surveyed the land for additional remains and confirmed the presence of CWD-causing prions in at least one bone.
Now, investigators have confirmed linked infections to farmed deer herds in other counties, including Hennepin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison and Mower.
State animal health officials say about 200 deer will eventually be killed.
CWD is a neurological disease of the deer and elk family caused by prions, and is always fatal. It can be spread by both direct (animal-to-animal) and indirect (environmental) contact with infected animals. Prions are shed through saliva, urine, blood, feces and antler velvet, and are known to persist in the environment for years.