October 1, 2005

Colorado moose tests for chronic wasting disease

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A moose killed by a hunter in northern
Colorado has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the
first time the deadly affliction has been found outside of wild
elk and deer herds, state wildlife officials said on Friday.

Chronic wasting disease was previously been found only in
wild deer and elk in 10 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
The fatal neurological disease eats away at the brains of
infected animals and is similar to mad cow disease found in
cattle or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

There is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can be
transmitted to humans, although health officials have cautioned
hunters not to eat the meat from infected game.

The mature bull moose, culled by an archery hunter on
September 10, was confirmed to have the fatal brain-wasting
disease after testing at Colorado State University's Veterinary
diagnostic laboratory, said Mike Miller, veterinarian for the
Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Miller said moose are members of the deer family but unlike
elk and deer, moose are solitary and do not form large herds so
it was unclear how widespread the disease may be in the

"This is a single case of (chronic wasting disease) in
moose, but given their social habits we believe that cases in
moose are likely to be a rare occurrence," he said.

Colorado has screened 288 moose for chronic wasting disease
in the past three years before getting a positive result but
175 of the 13,000 deer and elk tested in the last year came up
positive for the disease, said division of wildlife spokesman
Tyler Baskfield.

Moose were first reintroduced in Colorado in the 1970s and
a self-sustaining population of more than 1,200 are now in the
state, Baskfield said.