The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) recently announced the state acquired testing equipment to monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) — a fatal neurological disease of white-tailed deer.
The equipment was bought through a partnership between ADAI and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).
It will be housed at Auburn University in the State Diagnostic Lab.
“CWD currently exists in about 25 states, but fortunately not in Alabama,” said Alabama Wildlife Federation Executive Director Tim Gothard. “But whether you’re a state that has CWD or a state that does not have CWD, surveillance and monitoring are key parts of the equation to stay vigilant.”
ADAI Commissioner John McMillan said Alabama established a testing and monitoring program in 2002, but the state’s CWD testing equipment became outdated a few years ago. Samples have been sent out of state since, delaying results.
Officials estimate the new equipment will provide results within three days and process around 90 samples in one batch.
“Having this system in place in our state where we can test that many samples at one time with such a short turnaround will be very effective for us instead of having the delayed time of sending samples off,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship.
ADCNR collects and delivers samples to the diagnostic lab.
Blankenship said about 500 deer are tested annually using samples from all 67 Alabama counties.
CWD does not affect domestic livestock or humans.