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Colorado Parks & Wildlife commission data shows Mesa County has among the lowest rates of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state

Local hunters need not be as concerned about infected meat
A deer showing clear symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease.
A deer showing clear symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease.(Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game & Fish & CWD Alliance)
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 11:18 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - During Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s May commission meeting in Sterling, the results of mandatory testing of adult bucks for Chronic Wasting Disease showed that Mesa County has some of the lowest rates of Chronic Wasting Disease in Colorado.

Grand Junction rests right on the borders of survey zones 30, 40, and 41, all of which have infection rates of less than 5%. Zone 40, southwest of Grand Junction, did not have any CWD detected. Zones 30 and 41 both had under 5 percent positivity. Zone 60, which is a small zone which overlaps both Montrose and Mesa counties in the far southwestern corner of the county, is the only exception and had a positivity rate of over 20 percent. By contrast, virtually all counties in northeastern Colorado have a county-wide positivity rate of over 20 percent.

This study focused testing on the state’s deer herds rather than focusing on all affected species. “Overall, the decisions to commit to annual mandatory testing has been resoundingly important to understanding the status of this disease in Colorado,” Terrestrial Programs Supervisor Matt Eckert said. “It’s helped us in acquiring and communicating reliable infection rate estimates and laying a foundation to assess herd-specific management actions to combat CWD.”

CPW manages Chronic Wasting Disease by artificially adjusting deer age, sex, and population density to reduce the amount of deer at risk for infection.

Chronic Wasting Disease, colloquially called “zombie deer disease,” is a disease caused by misfolded proteins called prions, and is part of the same family of diseases as mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The only way to prevent infection is to proactively exterminate infected deer, then incinerate the carcasses. The disease is universally fatal within a few years of exposure. While Chronic Wasting Disease does not currently have the ability to infect humans, the CDC, CPW, and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment recommend not to eat infected meat.

More information on Chronic Wasting Disease in Colorado can be found here.

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