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Fatal condition spreading through US deer
CWD is a neurological condition that affects deer, moose and elk.

Disease comparable to BSE in cattle

A fatal condition comparable to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle is spreading through deer in the United States.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has so far been identified in 25 states. Most cases have been identified in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, but some have been confirmed as far east as New York.

Speaking to United Press International, Lou Cornicelli from the Minnesota Division of Fish and Wildlife said: “States are in all various stages of infection.

“We try to contain it, but it is tough to categorise if you’re being successful. Mostly it’s just trying to limit its spread.”

CWD is a neurological condition that affects deer, moose and elk. It causes spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals, leading to emaciation, disorientation and death.

While It is not yet known how CWD spreads, researchers believe the agent may pass through the bodily fluids of infected animals.

CWD is included in a group diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. Inside this group are other variants that affect domestic animals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and scrapie in domestic sheep.

It is this link to BSE that has sparked fears that CWD could become transmissible to humans.

While there have been no confirmed cases of this happening, there is evidence to indicate it might be possible. Two years ago, researchers in Canada were able to infect macaque monkeys - our closest relative - with CWD by feeding them infected deer meat.

As a precautionary measure, health and wildlife officials have encouraged hunters not to eat meat from infected animals and to take common sense precautions when harvesting deer or elk from infected areas.

Culling is currently the only way to kill the infected animals. Minnesota is culling hundreds of deer in areas where the disease has been identified and Illinois is holding a special deer season in infected zones.

“We’ve been really aggressive,” Cornicelli told UPI. “But we still don’t know what the next five years will bring.”

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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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News Shorts
NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”