Manitoba investing additional funds to prevent spread of fatal disease in deer

The Government of Manitoba is investing an additional $880,000 to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).

It is not known to have an impact on humans. However, it does impact mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and caribou.

It is also known that animals that have been infected by the disease may appear to be healthy until the later stages of the disease.

The province said the first case was detected in November 2021, and containment of deer affected is believed to have limited the spread of the disease to seven deer between Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“Chronic wasting disease is a significant threat to the health of Manitoba’s wildlife and our collective efforts in conservation, and we continue to take action to contain and eradicate its spread within the province,” said Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt.

“This additional investment will expand testing capacity, with a goal of reducing processing times for the 2023 hunting season. Testing more animals more often is critical to detecting the disease early and developing effective strategies to protect wildlife populations for the future.”

The province believes that if the disease continues to spread, it could become endemic and Manitoba could lose its entire deer family population.

“Manitoba hunters take chronic wasting disease and its prevention seriously,” said Carly Deacon, directing manager of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. “The increased funding and staffing levels will certainly assist with improving the CWD surveillance programs.”

To date, 22 positive cases of CWD have been found in the province.

The province says all the cases were identified from mandatory biological sampling submissions of hunter-harvested animals as well as animals harvested by Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development staff.

Despite not having a known health risk to humans, Health Canada recommends that meat from a CWD-infected animal not be consumed.

Hunters in CWD-infected areas are required to have harvested animals tested. Those with any concerns can call 1-204-638-4570.

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