Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, John McMillan, in cooperation with Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), Chris Blankenship, announce the purchase of new testing equipment at the State Veterinary Diagnostic
Laboratory. The equipment known as Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) will be dedicated to testing samples for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) found in white-tailed deer.
“We have been working alongside ADCNR for quite some time to update our lab equipment to give us this testing capability,” said Commissioner McMillan. “A recent case of CWD in a free-range white-tailed deer in west Mississippi prompted us to make this announcement now.”
CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) found to affect deer. It is believed to be caused by an infectious prion and has an extended incubation period. There are currently no approved live animal tests for the disease. Diagnosis is by histopathology, immunohistochemistry and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay; therefore, diagnosis requires examination of brain and lymphatic tissue.
The new CWD equipment uses different testing procedures which provide more timely results. Qualified personnel dedicated to conduct this testing have been hired at the State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Alabama. The testing equipment is undergoing a validation process required by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Once complete, the laboratory will be able to test deer samples and quickly determine the presence of CWD.
State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier added, “We have had an active CWD surveillance program since 2001 in partnership with the ADCNR and game breeder facilities. This testing capability will be an additional safeguard in protecting the deer population in the state.”
Current scientific literature has not shown any link of CWD to domestic livestock or humans.