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State veterinarian reports CWD-positive deer on Marathon County game farm


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- State ag officials say a deer on a Marathon County game farm has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

That news comes from state veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw. The deer was culled November 5th, and sent off for testing as per state regulations. The animal was a 5 year old buck from a game farm with 370 animals. Public information officer Raechelle Cline says state ag officials will have to do some legwork now. "The Division of Animal Health will take a look at all of the farms records. And they'll trace the animal's history and its movements, and they'll also trace the other animals that have moved onto and off of the property."

The issue will be finding out where exactly the disease came from. It's spread by special proteins called prions, and those are the problem, according to Cline. "And that prion can survive in the soil, where a deer has previously been killed. And if that prion gets into the soil, it can stay there indefinitely."

If the herd has been infected, Cline says drastic measure might have to be taken. "Most likely it will be a depopulation situation where they will have to depopulate their herd, and that will be determined by the state veterinarians."

A herd in Portage County tested positive for CWD in 2006, and an entire farm was culled. Cline says a full testing of the Marathon County farm could take some time. In the mean time the farm has been quarantined, but hunts will be allowed to continue, provided deer are handled properly.