Editor’s Note: All signs point to prion disease that has ravaged at least one private herd of deer in Alabama. The bad news is that the misinformation and declarations of false alarms are already in full swing. Containing chronic wasting disease or any prion disease is impossible. Telling people otherwise is reckless and criminal. The coverup and mismanagement is criminal. Chronic wasting disease, mad cow disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and many other neurological disorders are related and spreading rapidly. The common pathogen spreads in many ways, but victims magnify the environmental component of the epidemic with every breath and every step. Victims contaminate everything that they touch–even the sick deer in this story represent an environmental nightmare that threatens our food, water and much, much more. For example, the soil at this breeding facility is hopelessly contaminated and has been for quite a while (due to the urine, feces and saliva of the infected animals). The wind and rain will carry the pathogens away and help them migrate to new pathways, where they will multiplay and spread even further. The lies and mismanagement must stop.
Rush To Dismiss Unstoppable Risk Reckless
Preliminary tests have revealed that the contributing cause of death of more than 50 whitetail deer at a breeding facility in north Alabama is viral in nature, according to an Alabama conservation department news release.
Pathologists with the state’s Department of Agriculture and Industries are conducting further testing, Kevin Dodd, the state’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Chief Enforcement Officer, said Tuesday afternoon.
“Pathologists have assured us that it’s not something to be too worried about. At this point, they’ve been able to determine more of what it isn’t than what it is,” Dodd said.
Much to the relief of everyone involved in the investigation, Dodd said pathologists are confident that the cause of death does not appear to be chronic wasting disease (WTF?), an always-fatal neurological disorder of the brain that affects cervids such as deer, cows and goats. Variants of similar fatal abnormal proteins in the brain have been transferred to humans. Mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are two such CWD variants in humans.
Dodd said tests on brain tissues from the dead deer to confirm that CWD is not the cause will take several weeks to complete. Despite years of trying, scientists still have not developed a test for CWD that is effective on live animals. There is no known cure.
He said one of his officers reported that two more animals died Tuesday. According to the facility’s inspection papers, Dodd said the facility had an inventory of 130 animals in March.
ADAI and USDA pathologists are also confident that since the die-off began in May, it has been limited to this single breeding facility, which is located near Boaz (wrong. Prions migrate in air and water. Plus, it doesn’t address how the animals got the disease. The pathways are numerous). Still, Dodd is asking the public to report any sick deer around that northeast Alabama city and surrounding areas of Marshall and DeKalb counties.
“We always want to know about sick animals anywhere in the state,” Dodd said, “but especially right now in those areas of Marshall and DeKalb counties we are asking people to report anything suspicious outside of a deer that has been hit on the highway.”
Whatever virus is killing the deer is indiscriminant, Dodd said. The facility owner told him that bucks, does and yearlings of all ages have all succumbed.
“One day the deer are healthy and eating and the next they’re dead as a hammer,” Dodd said. “Many of the deer have been pregnant does, which is devastating for the future of the business. The owner told me those deer were his kids’ college fund. I really feel for him. He did everything he was supposed to do and reported the die-off to us like he’s supposed to.”
Attempts to reach State Veterinarian Tony Frazier were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier this year, the facility passed a routine herd inspection, which is conducted twice annually as part of a joint monitoring program between the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and the ADAI. Breeding facilities are required by law to report any animal deaths.
“Artificial conditions such as the penning of multiple species together like wild sheep and deer can spread pathogens that are normally restricted to one species,” Dodd said. “Although the deer in the affected facility were legally acquired in state, this incident demonstrates the potential outcome of introducing new diseases from areas outside the state.”
WFF Director Chuck Sykes said incidents such as this demonstrate the importance of the strict biosecurity measures Alabama keeps in place for its native wildlife and farm animals.
“Restricting the import or movement of potentially infected animals is a fundamental measure that was put in place to protect the health and safety of Alabama’s wildlife, livestock and citizens,” Sykes said.
Licensed game breeders in Alabama supply deer for stocking hunting enclosures across the state. These breeding facilities are subject to routine testing to minimize the introduction and spread of detrimental pathogens.
That routine monitoring of herd health led to the notification of the die-off at the north Alabama breeding facility. This resulted in the identification of the pathogens involved and a plan of action for the breeder was implemented.