- TOPEKA, Kan. (Reuters) -
Kansas officials have determined that a captive Kansas elk has tested
for a disease similar to mad cow, spurring concerns that the illness could
spread among the state's wildlife.
- The disclosure comes a week after Nebraska officials
said that four whitetail deer had tested positive for chronic wasting
The fatal ailment damages portions of the brain and is similar to bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, which has been found
in cattle in Europe.
- More than 100 people in Europe have died from a human
variant of mad cow disease.
- "This is not a time for panic, but it is a time
for precautions," Lloyd Fox, a biologist with the Kansas Department
of Wildlife and Parks, told Reuters in an interview. "There is so
much unknown about this series of disease."
- Officials said the captive herd exposed to the infected
elk has been quarantined and will likely be killed. The single elk that
has so far tested positive was shipped into Kansas from a Colorado
- Chronic wasting is a spongiform disease affecting mule
deer, white-tailed deer and elk. It has been identified in wild deer and
elk in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern
- Though uncommon, the disease appears to be increasing
in the United States, according to health and wildlife officials, who say
they know little about how it is transmitted or how long an infected area
remains contaminated even after the sick animal is removed.
- In October, the Colorado Department of Agriculture said
it would destroy about 1,450 ranch-raised elk that may have been exposed
to chronic wasting disease.
- The disease is in the same family of fatal brain-wasting
ailments as mad cow disease. Unlike mad cow, however, CWD has not been
linked to human illness. CWD has been present in U.S. deer and elk for
decades, mostly in Western states.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Sept. 27 it
had authorized $2.6 million for a CWD surveillance and indemnity