CWD Confirmed in Two Farmed Elk in Kent County

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed Thursday two cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in elk from a farmed facility in Kent County.

These are the first cases of CWD in Michigan elk.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects different cervid species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The disease can be transmitted directly from one animal to another and indirectly through the environment. While an infected animal may appear healthy for months or years, it will eventually display abnormal behavior, progressive weight loss, and physical debilitation in the latter stages of the disease.

“The discovery of chronic wasting disease in elk housed at a facility linked to a positive animal is not surprising,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, DVM. “MDARD’s main priority is to limit the spread of this disease by working together with other state departments, farmers, and ranchers. These findings underscore how important it is to pay attention to CWD and the movement of animals that may allow the disease to spread.”

Including these two most recent cases, CWD has been found in nine counties across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, including in 37 free-ranging white-tailed deer in Kent County. Since 2008, CWD has been detected at nine Michigan cervid farms across Mecosta (3), Kent (2), Montcalm (3) and Newaygo Counties.

CWD was first discovered in free-ranging deer in May 2015.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommends that animals that have tested positive for CWD should not be consumed by humans or domestic animals.