First detection of CWD confirmed in Great Falls, Montana

News brief

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) have detected chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a mule deer buck found dead within the city limits of Great Falls, the first known CWD case in the city. And North Carolina reported expansion of the disease.

Buck mule deer
Robert Pruner / Flickr cc

Buck acted odd before death

A Great Falls resident noticed that the buck was behaving strangely in January and later found the animal dead inside a building on the property. Tests at two separate labs confirmed CWD, an always-fatal prion disease that affects cervids such as deer, moose, and elk. The state's first CWD case was detected in 2017.

The closest previous CWD detection involved a mule deer buck killed by a hunter in Hunting District (HD) 405, about 15 miles east of Great Falls, near Belt, late last year.

FWP has conducted rotating surveillance for CWD throughout the state for several years, and HD 405 and Great Falls are priority surveillance areas for testing. The agency is asking property owners in the area to avoid feeding deer, since the practice can cause deer to congregate and contribute to the spread of CWD and other diseases.

First case in Cumberland County, N.C.

Officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced this week that a sample collected from a hunter-harvested, white-tailed deer in Cumberland County has tested positive for CWD, the first case detected outside of the state's surveillance area.

The deer was harvested last October, 9 miles east of Fayetteville. The testing sample was collected by a taxidermist enrolled in the state's surveillance system. CWD was first detected in North Carolina earlier in 2022.

CWD has not yet been detected in humans, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people not eat meat from infected animals and have their wild game tested before eating the meat if the animal was taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.

US reports more H5N1 avian flu detections in mammals

News brief
Mountain lion in snow
EvgeniyQ / iStock

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in an update to its mammal detections, reported 11 more positive H5N1 avian influenza tests in mammals, and Colorado wildlife officials reported three more detections in three different mammal species.

In the APHIS update, officials report detections in eight states, mostly in the West but some in the Midwest.

Oregon reported the virus in two skunks and a raccoon. Wyoming, Wisconsin, and South Dakota reported detections in red foxes. California and Washington reported the virus in bobcats. Meanwhile, Montana reported H5N1 in a grizzly bear.

Also, Nebraska reported H5N1 in an Amur tiger and a mountain lion from Scotts Bluff County, which may be linked to an outbreak at a zoo where an earlier grizzly bear death was reported. Four deaths of zoo cats were reported in December, one of them with a confirmed infection and others with suspected H5N1 illnesses, according to a local media report.

The updates raise the number of H5N1 detections in US mammals to 121.

Variety of species affected in Colorado

In related developments, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) yesterday reported three more detections in wildlife. They include a black bear from Huerfano County that was sick in October, a skunk from Weld County that tested positive in November, and a mountain lion from Gunnison County that was recently confirmed as positive.

CPW said all three animals showed signs of illness before death or upon necropsy. Neurologic symptoms included seizures or circling, weakness, and lack of responsiveness to humans. Signs of organ damage include encephalitis, hepatitis, and pneumonia.

Other similar suspected mammalian cases have been detected in the state, with confirmatory testing pending.

"Other similar suspected mammalian cases have been detected in the state, with confirmatory testing pending," CPW said. The agency added that the number of mammal cases is low, despite the growing variety of infected species.

Health officials are concerned about the growing number of reports in mammals, given that the circulating H5N1 strain has characteristics that make it more recognizable to mammal airway cells.

Four African nations report new polio cases

News brief

Four countries in Africa reported more polio cases this week, all involving circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) or type 2 (cVDPV2), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported in its weekly update yesterday.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 30 new cases, 8 cVDPV1 and 22 cVDPV2, all for 2022. Five type 1 cases were reported in Haut-Lomami province, 2 in Haut-Katanga, and 1 in Tanganyika. Of the cVDPV2 cases, 15 were in Haut-Lomami, 2 in Lualaba, and 1 each in Tanganyika, Ituri, Bas-Uele, Kasai-Oriental, and Sud-Kivu provinces. The DRC has now confirmed 92 cVDPV1 cases and 277 cVDPV2 cases for 2022.

Algeria reported 1 cVDPV2 case in El Oued province, which occurred last year. The country has now confirmed 3 cases in 2022. Chad reported 2 new cVDPV2 cases for 2022, 1 each in Chari-Baguirmi and Logone Occidental departments. The country has now logged 36 cVDPV2 cases in 2022.

And Mali confirmed 1 cVDPV2 case, in Taoudenit region, the nation's first case in 2022.

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