SPRINGFIELD, IL - Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has
been identified in one reindeer in a captive herd in northern Illinois. Affecting
cervids (members of the deer family), CWD is a prion disease that causes brain
and nerve issues and has proved to be fatal. A prion is an abnormally folded
protein that can occur naturally or be acquired through contact with
contaminated bodily fluids or a contaminated environment.
Symptoms include weight loss, stumbling, excessive
thirst, drooling, and listlessness. An animal cannot be diagnosed with CWD by
symptoms alone, as many of these are also indicators of other diseases. The
only definitive way to diagnose CWD is through tissue testing after death.
There is no USDA approved live animal test available to determine if an animal
The affected reindeer was sampled on April 23 during
a necropsy after the animal died unexpectedly.
Tissues for CWD testing were submitted to the Wisconsin Veterinary
Diagnostic Laboratory for analysis and the diagnosis was confirmed at the USDA
National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA on May 9. Samples were subsequently sent for DNA
testing with confirmation received on June 5.
Prior to this detection, CWD had only been detected
in one free-ranging reindeer herd in Norway in 2016. The susceptibly of reindeer to CWD had been
much debated prior to this detection.
This is the first known case of a reindeer being confirmed positive in
The herd is a member of the IDOA's Illinois Chronic
Wasting Disease Certified Herd Program and has been placed under
quarantine. The Illinois Department of
Agriculture is working closely with the herd owner and USDA Veterinary Services
to manage the herd.
There is no evidence of CWD being infectious to
humans and it does not appear to naturally affect cattle or other domesticated