The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recently announced big changes for deer check stations and chronic wasting disease, or CWD, testing for the 2020 deer seasons. The MDNR will accept deer for testing from certain areas of the state, during specific dates. Outside of those areas and/or timeframes, hunters who wish to have their deer tested for CWD can collect and submit their own samples for testing.
In support of Michigan hunters and MDNR, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, or MSU VDL, developed a system to allow hunters to submit samples directly to the VDL. Hunters wishing to submit samples can find instructions and more information at animalhealth.msu.edu and at Michigan.gov/CWD.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal central nervous system disease found in captive and free-ranging cervids like deer, elk and moose. The MSU VDL’s ability to test for CWD has proven valuable to MDNR’s surveillance since a free-ranging, white-tailed deer was positively confirmed with CWD in 2015.
“As the incidence of CWD increased, we responded by amplifying our test capacity,” said MSU VDL interim director James Averill. “When we learned about the changes for this year, we began developing an online system to make it possible for Michigan hunters to order and pay for testing, submit samples, and receive the results.”
There are two USDA-approved test methods to detect CWD. Nationwide, 28 laboratories are approved by the USDA to test for CWD. Of those, the MSU VDL is one of only 10 laboratories approved for both methods and is the only USDA-approved lab for CWD testing in Michigan. Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the MSU VDL performed nearly 28,000 tests for CWD.
“The Laboratory was established more than 40 years ago to protect human and animal health in Michigan, and this is one more way we can live up to our mission,” Averill said.
The VDL facility, south of the main MSU campus, also houses the MDNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory. VDL and MDNR experts regularly collaborate on disease investigations impacting Michigan’s wildlife populations.
The MSU VDL, a service unit in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is a premier, full-service, fully accredited veterinary diagnostic laboratory for all species. On average, the lab performs one million tests per year on approximately 200,000 cases for more than 300,000 animals. The MSU VDL is a member of key federal networks charged with protecting human and animal health, and their core diagnostics, innovative solutions, and expert service have earned them clients in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and more than 20 foreign countries. The lab serves approximately 9,000 clients per year.