Southern Minnesota CWD investigation identifies new infection in Beltrami County



St. Paul, Minn. – A 3-year-old white-tailed doe at a Beltrami County farm has been confirmed CWD positive by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories. This 77-head herd was quarantined in October 2020 as part of the Board of Animal Health investigation of the previously reported Houston County CWD detection. The Beltrami County herd owner purchased 11 animals from the Winona County herd also identified in the investigation so these animals were considered CWD-exposed, which led to the quarantine.

“This detection is disheartening,” said Board of Animal Health Assistant Director, Dr. Linda Glaser. “Our investigation and tracing led us to find this positive animal. However, CWD continues to negatively impact Minnesota farmed cervid producers, and the tools we have to control this disease are so limited. The Board will work with the USDA to get this herd depopulated to stop any spread of disease from the herd.”

The Beltrami County owner requested federal indemnity for the CWD-exposed animals, which were appraised by the USDA in March. USDA officials reported three of the 11 exposed animals had recently died and they collected CWD samples from two of them for testing; one of those animals was the CWD positive doe. The third deer was too decomposed to collect a sample. All carcass remains were taken to the University of Minnesota for safe disposal.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which manages the health of the wild deer population, will conduct precautionary surveillance in the area surrounding the Beltrami County farm to determine if nearby wild deer are infected with CWD. Surveillance will begin with this fall’s hunting season and last a minimum of three consecutive years. The DNR encourages Beltrami County residents to report observations of sick wild deer to their local wildlife office by calling 218-732-8452. A deer feeding ban will also be put in place in Beltrami and surrounding counties.

CWD is a disease of the deer and elk family caused by prions, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals. The disease is fatal in deer and elk, and there are no known treatments or vaccines. Consuming meat from a CWD positive animal is not advised.

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The mission of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is to protect the health of the state’s domestic animals through education and cooperation with veterinarians, producers, owners and communities.