JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Ten elk that came to Missouri from Colorado have tested negative for chronic wasting disease, state animal health officials said Tuesday.
The animals were the only elk remaining here that had come from Colorado, where an outbreak of the disease had occurred last year.
Chronic wasting disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The most common sign of the disease is chronic weight loss leading to death.
It is unknown how the disease occurs or spreads, but at this time there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can spread to cattle or people.
To test for the disease, the state first had to kill the elk and then examine their brains.
Some had raised concerns that if Missouri elk were infected with the deadly disease, it could spread through the state's deer population.
"Although further tests are pending, the Department of Conservation reports there is currently no evidence of the disease in our deer population, so these latest (elk) test findings are really the icing on the cake," said state veterinarian Taylor Woods.
After the Missouri Department of Agriculture was notified in October of the Colorado cases, the agency filed emergency rules prohibiting the entry of elk or deer from areas known to have animals with chronic wasting disease.
The rules also require livestock owners to have a permit to bring elk or deer into Missouri.
Agriculture officials estimate there are 2,000 elk on about 80 farms in Missouri.