Second case of chronic wasting disease confirmed in New York

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:58

    ALBANY-Chronic wasting disease was discovered in a second captive deer in central New York, days after the deadly malady was first detected in the state, agricultural officials said on April 2. Both white-tailed deer had been part of captive herds in Oneida County, east of Syracuse. The second positive case was discovered in a small herd that had taken in animals from the herd that yielded the initial confirmed case earlier this week, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. Chronic wasting disease — called CWD — is a degenerative neurological illness that is deadly to some deer and elk species. There is no evidence that CWD is harmful to humans or other domestic livestock. The second confirmed case was discovered in a four- to five-year-old deer that died of pneumonia on its owner's property two weeks ago. The deer was tested under mandatory state screening program. New York agricultural officials said Saturday they were trying to determine the source of the disease in both animals, but stressed it should not be considered a public health threat. "This is an animal health issue first and foremost. There's no link to disease in humans," said state agricultural spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden. "We're doing everything we can to control this." The herd that yielded the initial positive, as well as six other captive herds that potentially came into contact with that herd, have been quarantined. Animals in the two herds with confirmed positives will be killed and tested for CWD. Meanwhile, state environmental officials were testing wild deer in the largely rural county to determine if the disease has spread beyond captive animals. "We will be sampling a lot of deer in a limited area in a short period of time," said Gerry Barnhart, director of state Department of Environmental Conservation's Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources division. State officials have not identified the herd owners. But they said Saturday that the owner of the first deer to test positive held game breeding and wildlife rehabilitation licenses, sold animals and donated meat from his herd. The owner of the second deer kept a small number for pleasure, according to agricultural and environmental officials. CWD has been detected in wild and captive deer and elk populations in 12 states in the West and Midwest. Scientists don't know how the disease is transmitted among animals. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, stumbling, tremors, lack of coordination and listlessness.