Ten elk that came to Missouri from Colorado, where several elk recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, have tested negative for the illness, state animal health officials announced.

The 10 animals were the only elk remaining in the state that had come from Colorado. They were sold to Missouri buyers up to a year before the state was notified of the Colorado outbreak last October.

Following the notification, the Missouri Department of Agriculture quickly moved to file emergency rules to prohibit the entry of elk or deer coming from areas known to have animals ill with chronic wasting disease. The revised rules also require livestock owners or gamesmen to have a permit to bring elk, deer or other cervids--animals that lose their antlers--into Missouri.

"Based on some previous tests and the animals' condition, we felt confident that chronic wasting disease had not been introduced into Missouri's elk population. Recent tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirm the good news," said State Veterinarian Taylor Woods. "Although further tests are pending, the Department of Conservation reports there is no evidence of the disease in our deer population, so these latest test findings are really the icing on the cake."

Colorado animal health officials notified the Missouri Department of Agriculture, in October, that more than 25 elk from the infected Colorado herd had made their way to Missouri. Further tracking showed most of the elk had died or been sold to other states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture purchased the remaining 10 animals from their owners, so they could be tested. An 11th elk that had not come from Colorado also was tested, when it was found dead in one of the herds.

The only reliable way to test for chronic wasting disease is to study an animal's brain, Woods said. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory, in Ames, IA, conducted the testing.

Agriculture officials estimate there are about 2,000 elk on about 80 Missouri farms. Elk are primarily raised for their meat and antler velvet, as well as for fee hunting operations.

Additional information on chronic wasting disease can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Website, at www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/fscwd.html.

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