Iowa DNR explains chronic wasting disease after finding it in Dubuque County

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DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- An Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologist says hunters need to be aware of a disease that was found in Dubuque County.

Officers confirmed a deer near the city of Dubuque had Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD. That disease isn't new in Iowa, but this is the first case the DNR has confirmed in Dubuque County.

According to Iowa DNR wildlife biologist and CWD coordinator Terry Haindfield, CWD is a fatal disease that any animal in the deer family can catch. He said it causes the animal to become disoriented and the body to waste away.

He said the disease was found in a deer that was on the side of Highway 52 outside of the City of Dubuque, near the airport.

Haindfield said the DNR tracks this disease to ensure the deer population is healthy and to keep humans safe.

"They’re for people for observing deer, something of our natural environment, but also for hunting in Iowa. It’s a great tradition that we’ve had that we want to be able to keep healthy populations of deer," he explained.

"There’s never been any kind of case that’s crossed over the species to humans at this time, but we can’t say that chance is zero. Sometimes it could cross over, as we saw in mad cow disease," Haindfield said.

He encourages hunters to share deer meat samples with the DNR to keep track of the disease and to keep the number of cases low. Haindfield said this is important to do because the deer don't show CWD symptoms for up to three years after contracting it.

To learn more, Haindfield encourages people to attend an informational meeting in Peosta on Thursday, January 17. It's at 6:30 p.m. at the Peosta Community Center, 7896 Burds Road.