WPR News
9:51 am
Tue November 18, 2008

Surprising findings about chronic wasting disease

Laramie, WY – A University of Wyoming researcher has uncovered information that challenges a long-held notion about chronic wasting disease.

Dave Edmunds studies a herd of white-tail deer near Glenrock. He says 32 percent of the females in that group have acquired the disease. That's 10 percent higher than the prevalence rate found in the group's males. Edmunds says this is a major surprise: "I think it had been pretty well determined in both mule deer and whitetail deer that this was a disease of bucks, and when we first started this research we certainly believed that males were a lot more prone to acquiring chronic wasting disease."

Edmunds says the gender shift could be attributed to stronger hunting pressure on bucks in the area. Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. Biologists say it is spreading in Wyoming, but they still have many unanswered questions about the disease.