Wildlife officials: Farmed elk in Lincoln County tests positive for chronic wasting disease

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LINCOLN COUNTY, Okla. – An Oklahoma state agency confirms that an elk in Lincoln County has been diagnosed with a deadly disease.

In January, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation proposed adding language to its rules that deal with the import, transport or possession of deer carcasses and live deer to help protect Oklahoma’s deer and elk populations from chronic wasting disease.

“Oklahoma deer hunters may have heard about chronic wasting disease afflicting deer and elk in other states. ODWC has been following the progress of CWD for decades and is making preparations in case the disease is detected in the state’s wild herd,” Micah Holmes, Information Supervisor for ODWC, said at the time.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that attacks the brains of deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family. The disease creates holes in the brain, which is always fatal to the animal. It is a slow-progressing disease with a long lag between infection and visible symptoms.

Infected animals began to lose weight, lose appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to separate from the herd, walk in repetitive patterns, stumble or tremble, carry their head low, salivate, urinate frequently and grind their teeth.

At this point, no treatment or vaccine exists.

The disease is spread when animals are in close contact, or when they contact soil that contains protein particles from urine, feces, saliva or an infected animal’s carcass.

Officials say chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in wild deer and elk in every state surrounding Oklahoma.

Now, authorities say an elk from a farmed herd in Lincoln County has tested positive for the disease.

The 2-year-old bull elk died as a result of an injury and was tested in compliance with the facility’s Certified Herd Plan.

Investigators say they have quarantined the breeding facility, and a nearby commercial hunt area. ODWC will be testing wild deer in the area near the facility for the presence of the disease.

After the findings, the State Veterinarian issued a stop movement order for all in-state cervid transports for 30 days in order to assess the situation.

This marks the second confirmed case of CWD in Oklahoma with the other case occurring in 1998.

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