A second case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in a domestic red deer from herd on a farm believed to be in Boileau. This discovery follows one found in a deer in late September in the same herd.
Animals with CWD experience a gradual breakdown of their central nervous system. They become emaciated, disoriented, lose control of bodily functions, develop extreme thirst, and eventually die. Not all deer infected with CWD initially show symptoms, but all deer infected will inevitably succumb to it. The local cases of CWD are the first ever to be discovered in Québec.
A statement from Frédérick Lelièvre, the Chief Biologist for biosecurity and wild animal health for the Québec Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) in Québec City, says the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the positive test in an adult female on October 18. The CFIA has slaughtered the other deer in that paddock as a precautionary measure. So far, 346 deer from the herd have been slaughtered under CFIA direction. The Québec Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries, et de l’Alimentation (MAPAC) also slaughtered and tested 89 deer between September 10 and 26. All of the CFIA and MAPAQ tests were negative.
In the wild, the MFFP has directed a cull of deer in a controlled intervention zone where all hunting and trapping has been banned. From the deer culled in that zone, 176 tissue samples were taken up to October 18. All tested negative for CWD. In the surrounding enhanced surveillance zone, where hunting is permitted but hunters are to take the deer to designated stations for testing, 110 samples were tested and they too were all negative.
The CFIA, MAPAQ, and MFFP have been cooperating on the response to the CWD cases and have requested the cooperation of local landowners and hunters. However, the government response has not been always well-received from residents in the areas affected, which include Harrington, Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Boileau, and Wentworth-Nord. The federal and provincial agencies still have not confirmed that the herd at the source of the CWD is the one in Boileau. The culls and hunting restrictions are also unpopular with many rural residents. Many of them angrily shared their concerns at a public meeting in Grenville on September 27.
Marc André Le Gris, a Grenville-sur-la-Rouge councillor, shared the latest update confirming the second case of CWD on the Grenville-sur-la-Rouge news page on Facebook. Direct communication from federal and provincial authorities has also been a source of criticism from residents. Le Gris said as a citizen, he feels that people are very upset right now. As a councillor, he said their concerns are very important to him. “I will definitely make sure that their voices are heard by the right people,” said Le Gris.
Tom Arnold, the mayor of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, said, “We continue to monitor the situation and will advise our citizens.”