Shultz, Thomas

The Department of Livestock Reports Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Detection in Flathead County Game Farm

November 20, 2020

Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, MT Dept. of Livestock, (406) 444–5214, Dr. Marty Zaluski, 
MT Dept. of Livestock, (406) 444 –2043,

The Department of Livestock Reports Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Detection in Flathead County Game 

Helena, Mont.—On November 19 the Montana Department of Livestock received notification that a 
single game farm animal in Flathead County was confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease 
(CWD). This is the second detection of CWD in domestic cervids in Montana this year.

The CWD positive animal was found as a result of mandatory surveillance of all age eligible animal 
mortalities in game farm animals in Montana. Montana’s CWD Herd Certification Program requires all 
animals greater than 12 months of age to be tested. The CWD positive animal was not exhibiting any 
clinical signs of CWD but was found dead on the affected premises. The infection was confirmed by 
the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa through the identification of the prion 
in tissue samples collected from the animal.

The Department has placed the herd under quarantine and is conducting an epidemiological 
investigation. Montana law requires CWD positive game farm herds to undergo complete depopulation 
and post-mortem testing of the herd, or quarantine of the entire herd for a period of five years 
from the last CWD positive case.

State Veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski stated, “An epidemiologic investigation will be conducted, but 
at this time, the source of the disease is unknown.” Zaluski added, “We will look at historical 
animal movements associated with this captive herd and proximity to infected wildlife to try to 
determine the source of exposure.”

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has documented CWD in wild cervids across much of Montana 
through surveillance that began in 2017. In 2019, approximately 7,000 wild deer, elk, and moose 
were sampled statewide, with 140 of them testing positive for CWD.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects the nervous system of white-tailed deer, mule 
deer, elk, and moose. Transmission can occur through direct contact between animals, through

urine, feces, saliva, blood and antler velvet. Infected carcasses may serve as a source of
environmental contamination and can infect other animals.  Infected animals may carry the disease 
for years without showing signs of illness, but in later stages, signs may include progressive 
weight loss, lack of coordination and physical debilitation.

There is no known transmission of CWD to humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting an animal in areas known for the presence of 
CWD, have their animal tested. If the animal tests positive, the CDC advises against eating the 

The mission of the Montana Department of Livestock is to control and eradicate animal diseases, 
prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from 
theft and predatory animals. For more information on the Montana Department of Livestock,

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