More than 1,720 elk killed in Colorado effort to stop fatal brain disease

Friday, April 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ Colorado wildlife officials have killed more than 1,720 elk since last fall to stanch the spread of a fatal brain illness related to mad cow disease.

Known as chronic wasting disease, the illness has been found in 44 elk on nine ranches, state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Linh Truong said Wednesday.

State veterinarian Wayne Cunningham said one ranch may have been infected as early as 1992. The disease also has been found in Colorado deer.

Wildlife officials have killed both wild and domestic elk that were in contact with infected animals, or at ranches where the disease was found.

Chronic wasting causes animals to grow thin as it destroys their brains. It is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. There is no test to determine if live elk are infected.

It is not known to spread from animals to people but scientists say that cannot be ruled out.