The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) yesterday announced the state acquired new testing equipment to help monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) — a fatal neurological disease of white-tailed deer.
The equipment was purchased 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 Tim Gothard, Alabama Wildlife Federation executive director. “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 CWD testing and monitoring program in 2002. A few years ago, the state’s CWD testing equipment became outdated. Samples have been sent out of state since, increasing the turnaround time between taking the sample and receiving test results.
The cost of the new testing equipment, around $30,000, was a fraction of the estimate to repair the old equipment, which came in around $100,000.
Officials estimate the new equipment will provide test results within three days. It can also 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 Chris Blankenship, ADCNR commissioner.
ADCNR is responsible for collecting samples and delivering those to the diagnostic lab. Blankenship said they test an average of 500 deer annually, and samples are collected from all 67 Alabama counties.
CWD does not affect domestic livestock or humans. Click here to learn more.