First cases of chronic wasting disease detected in B.C. deer


British Columbia has detected its first cases of a fatal disease found in deer species.

The province says two cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been found in two deer samples in the Kootenay region, south of Cranbrook.

The two samples came from one male adult mule deer and one adult female white-tailed deer that was struck on the road; the diagnoses were confirmed by a lab at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Wednesday.

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The disease affects members of the cervid family, including deer, elk, moose and caribou, and has been detected in other Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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The province says it has established a surveillance and response plan for the disease, led by the Provincial Wildlife Veterinarian to lessen the risk of it spreading to other animals across B.C.

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Support and input is being gathered from an advisory committee and regional groups, including First Nations, stakeholders, chronic wasting disease experts and other partners.

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An initial response area of a 10-kilomtre radius has been established from the spots of the confirmed cases.

Officials say there is no direct evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, with no evident cases found so far.

Symptoms of chronic wasting disease include weight loss, drooling, poor co-ordination, stumbling, and illness for no obvious reason.

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The government is asking anyone who sees animals exhibiting these symptoms to report it to the 24/7 Report All Poachers and Polluters Line (RAPP) or the BC Wildlife Health Program.

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It is also asking people in the initial response area to be watchful for other potential cases, in activities including deer feeding and the handling of carcasses.

To prevent risk of transmission or illness, Health Canada and the World Health Organization recommend people do not eat meat or parts of animals infected with CWD.

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