Arkansas lab to begin testing for chronic wasting disease
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas laboratory is taking over testing for chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disorder afflicting deer and elk that was found in the state last year.
The Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory is the only state lab that is a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which coordinates the nation’s response to outbreaks of animal-borne diseases, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Since presence of the disease in Arkansas was confirmed last February, the state Game and Fish Commission has had to send tissue samples to a Wisconsin lab. The Game and Fish Commission spent about $71,000 on testing for the wasting disease last year, an agency spokesman said.
There’s no prevention and no cure for the disease, and researchers have found no evidence that the disease poses a serious risk to humans. The disease also is in 23 other states.
The state has a deer herd of about 1 million and an elk herd of about 600.
Game and Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens said 3,500 samples have been collected from the brains and lymph nodes of dead deer and elk since Sept. 1. The samples were sent to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.
So far, 156 of the recent samples have tested positive, with white-tailed deer accounting for 150 of the cases.
Some 300,000 Arkansans hunt deer, killing about 200,000 a year.