Four deer on a central Minnesota farm have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a deadly neurological infection.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said it euthanized a farmed herd of 14 white-tailed deer in Meeker County last month, and this week four of those deer tested positive for the disease. The herd was already part of an investigation traced back to a case in Crow Wing County last year.
Authorities this week quarantined a Wright County farm where two of the infected animals from Meeker County lived as fawns in 2014. But the Wright County herd is not considered infected, said board assistant director Dr. Linda Glaser.
"Herd movements are restricted, and the herd will be closely monitored until 2019," she said.
Chronic wasting disease is caused by an abnormal protein that damages brain and nerve tissue. It is spread among animals by close contact, and is fatal to deer and elk. Authorities say the infection is not known to harm people, but they advise against eating meat from infected animals.
Authorities are trying to control the spread of the disease. The Meeker County farm is now empty and the board said it won't host captive deer or elk for five years. Fences will keep wild deer off the site.
Chronic wasting disease was detected in captive elk herds in Minnesota in 2002, and the Department of Natural Resources said animals suffering from the infection have since been found in four other herds through 2013. Eleven wild deer have tested positive for the disease since last year's deer hunting season, according to the DNR.