New research from our lab used genetic assignment tests to determine likely source populations of animals infected with chronic wasting disease. Wildlife and disease managers are often concerned when infected animals are found far from the disease focus. In Illinois, the chronic wasting disease focus is located in the northern counties of Winnebago and Boone. Unfortunately, infected animals have been found in areas far from Winnebago and Boone. Genetic assignment tests were used to determine where the disease came from: did infected animals move out of the disease focus to inhabit new areas? The research indicates that white-tailed deer disperse long distances whether they are infected with chronic wasting disease or not. Although this is a sobering fact that can make disease management difficult, our previous investigation of prevalence rates in Illinois indicate that the current management strategy in the state has been effective.
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