What are the symptoms of CWD?
Cases of CWD occur most commonly in adult animals, but also in yearlings. The disease is progressive and always fatal.
The most obvious and consistent clinical sign is weight loss over time. CWD affected animals continue to eat but amounts of feed consumed are reduced, leading to gradual loss of body condition. Excessive drinking and urination are common in the terminal stages.
Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, blank facial expression and repetitive walking in set patterns. In elk, behavioral changes may also include hyper-excitability and nervousness. Excessive salivation, drooling and grinding of the teeth also are observed.
Clinical signs of CWD alone are not conclusive. There are other maladies that have symptoms that mimic those of CWD. Currently, the only conclusive diagnosis involves an examination of the brain, tonsils or lymph nodes performed after death.
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