First case of chronic wasting disease suspected in Jackson County

Contact: Kelly Straka, 517-336-5040
Agency: Natural Resources

June 21, 2018

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today that a 3-year-old doe in Spring Arbor Township (Jackson County) is suspected positive for chronic wasting disease. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. 

Earlier this month, landowners in Jackson County contacted the DNR after a very ill-looking deer died on their property. DNR staff examined the deer to determine the cause of death and submitted tissue samples to Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. After initial tests were positive for CWD, samples were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory for confirmation. The DNR is awaiting those results.

Over 31,000 deer have been tested for the disease since May 2015. If confirmed by the federal lab, this would be the 58th CWD-positive deer in Michigan and the first in Jackson County. Chronic wasting disease already has been confirmed in Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm counties.

"We are committed to maintaining healthy Michigan wildlife for current and future generations,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “One of our chief goals is to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease to other areas of the state. That’s why we’ve taken strategic action, in partnership with local communities, hunters and others, to best address CWD in Michigan’s deer population.”

The DNR will be working with surrounding landowners, farmers, local governments and hunters to better understand this new finding.  

“Strong public awareness and cooperation from residents and hunters are critical for a rapid response,” said Kelly Straka, state wildlife veterinarian. “We’d like to thank the individuals who called the DNR; without their help, we would not be aware that CWD may be within Jackson County.”

The DNR is asking for help from hunters and the public in reporting deer that are:

  • Unusually thin, lethargic, with drooping head and ears.
  • Exhibiting unusual behavior (for example, acting tame around humans and allowing someone to approach). 

To report a suspicious-looking deer, call your local DNR field office or fill out and submit the online observation report found on the DNR website.

Although this latest finding involves a free-ranging deer, deer farms in the area will be notified as well. 

“We are working with owners of deer farms within all counties touched by a 15-mile radius around the suspect deer to ensure they are meeting CWD testing requirements,” said State Veterinarian James Averill, DVM. 

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals. 

More information about CWD – including Michigan’s CWD surveillance and response plan, fact sheets, and testing data – is available at michigan.gov/cwd.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.