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Chronic Wasting Disease in Manitoba: What it Means for Northwestern Ontario

The first case of chronic wasting disease in Manitoba was recently confirmed in a mule deer in the southwestern part of the province. Chronic wasting disease, commonly referred to as CWD, is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and caribou. CWD is highly infectious, incurable, and 100% fatal. It poses high risk to our wildlife, food sustainability, cultural sustainability social wellbeing, economy, recreational activities, and although risk human health is not confirmed, the risk is not zero and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends against consumption of infected meat.

Caused by an abnormal protein that self-replicates within animals, it belongs to a group of diseases that also includes mad cow disease. CWD-infected animals can pass it to other animals through direct contact or through shed prions in the soil, vegetation, or on hard surfaces. In locations where the disease is established it infects 1 in 10 animals and for localized infected areas more than 1 in 4.

The visible symptoms of CWD include weight loss, excessive salivation, disorientation, tremors, stumbling, a lack of coordination, and paralysis - although it may takes years for infected animals to be symptomatic.

You can help with the early detection of wildlife disease by reporting sick, strange-acting, or dead wildlife (not just deer) to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.

To learn more check out this video from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters: