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From: TSS ()
Subject: Chronic wasting disease, United States and Canada UPDATE 11/03/05
Date: November 3, 2005 at 9:13 am PST

Chronic wasting disease, United States

West Virginia: The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that four free-ranging white-tailed deer collected from Hampshire County were confirmed to be positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Three (2 percent) of 121 samples were collected from deer through CWD surveillance efforts in Hampshire County as of September 14, 2005. A fourth deer was tested and found positive after being killed by a motor vehicle collision. Surveillance efforts are being intensified to accurately determine the prevalence and distribution of CWD in the affected region of West Virginia.

Colorado: In Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife confirmed that a bull moose killed by an archer in Jackson County has tested positive for CWD. This is the first time CWD has been found in a wild moose, though moose have been infected experimentally. CWD had previously been found only in the wild in deer and elk. CWD testing for moose was made mandatory in Colorado in 2003. Since 2002, 288 moose have been tested and the disease was not detected. Nearly 13,000 deer and elk were submitted for CWD testing between August 2004 and April 2005. Of those animals, 175 tested positive for CWD. Because of their solitary social habits, CWD is expected to be rare in moose.

Sources: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources,; Colorado Department of Natural Resources,

Chronic wasting disease, Canada

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been identified for the first time in a wild deer in Alberta. Before this case, there have been three cases of CWD found in game-farmed animals in Alberta.

Surveillance for chronic wasting disease in wild deer and elk in Alberta has been ongoing for almost 10 years. About 6000 wild deer and elk from Alberta have been tested for the disease and were negative. CWD is known to occur in Saskatchewan, where 68 cases of CWD have been found in wild deer and a significant number of elk found on game farms.

Source: Government of Alberta,

Update - October 3, 2005

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed two additional cases of chronic wasting disease in two wild mule deer found about 30 kilometres southeast of Oyen, Alberta. These deer were 2 out of 133 deer collected in response to the first case of CWD found in the wild and confirmed September 2.

Prior to these cases, no trace of CWD had been found in more than 6,000 wild deer and elk tested since 1996.

For more information, please see News Release and question and answers.

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?
Ongoing testing and surveillance
What happens next?
Hunter participation and information
Map of recent cases of CWD

Provincial map
General positive location map

Name of Condition
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), prion disease of cervids, cervid spongiform encephalopathy.

Name of Agent
An unnamed prion protein.

CWD has the potential to infect and cause mortality in a variety of cervids. Infections are known in wild mule deer, elk, and white-tailed deer in a small area of the western US and in Wisconsin/Illinois, In addition, infections have been found in game farm cervids in USA (various states), Canada (Saskatchewan, Alberta), and Korea. Recently, isolated reports in wild deer in some of these regions have occurred.

Although identified in the 1970s and 1980s, CWD probably occurred in a localized area of Colorado/ Wyoming/ Nebraska for quite some time. It may be the result of local mutation of a similar agent that causes scrapie in domestic sheep. However, CWD is known to occur only in cervids, and is not a disease of traditional livestock (cows, sheep or pigs). The disease can occur as a "silent" infection for many years but eventually, infected deer and elk cannot maintain weight and slowly waste away. Excessive salivation as well as lethargy, incoordination, and drooping head and ears also are common in individual animals that show clinical signs. Infection appears to be fatal in all cases.

The nervous system is the preferred habitat for the agent of CWD. Infections are associated with clear open spaces within the animal's brain tissue that make it look somewhat like a sponge. Needless to say, these spaces result in changes to behaviour, attitude, and metabolism that lead to the clinical signs described above.

Life Cycle
To date, we do not know the specific mechanisms of transmission of CWD. The disease can pass from one individual animal to another and occasionally passes from females to their offspring. Infectious material also can survive in the environment for an unknown period of time.

Distribution in Alberta
In response to a report of CWD in wild mule deer in Saskatchewan, the Fish and Wildlife Division collected wild deer along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border in April 2001. All deer collected were negative for CWD.

In late March 2002, CWD was identified in a farmed elk in Alberta. The infection was detected during the provincial surveillance program that has been on-going since 1996. Federal CWD eradication programs were implemented immediately. All farmed cervids that moved on or off the premises in the previous three years as well as the current animals on the farm were killed and tested. No further CWD was found.

In early November 2002, CWD was identified in two farmed white-tailed deer on one farm in Alberta. As with the farmed elk, federal control and eradication programs were implemented immediately. No further cases of CWD were found. In response to finding CWD on two game farms in central Alberta, the Fish and Wildlife Division sampled wild deer in the vicinity of the farms in late February/early March 2003. All deer and elk collected were negative for CWD.

In late March/April 2005, Alberta culled a total of 486 deer from a small high risk area east of Chauvin near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Fish and Wildlife officers presented information and an outline of their plan at public information meetings before the cull and received good cooperation from the public and landowners. All of those animals were negative for CWD.

On September 2, 2005, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed CWD in a mule deer doe found emaciated in a farmyard about 30 kilometres southeast of Oyen, Alberta. This was the first wild deer found to have this disease in Alberta. A total of 133 deer in the vicinity were collected in response to this case of CWD. Testing of these deer resulted in two additional cases of CWD being confirmed on October 3.

Importance for Wildlife Management
The natural extent and impact of CWD in wild cervids appears to be extremely limited. Mortality of deer and elk does not seem to affect overall productivity in infected populations in the short term, although some models applied to data collected in Colorado suggest that mule deer populations at the heart of the affected area may decline in 40-50 years.

The finding of CWD in wild and farmed white-tailed deer in Wisconsin is causing significant concern for wildlife managers in the east. The high number of deer and elk farms (~1000) and high density of wild deer (in the range of 75-100 white-tails/mi2) provide added risk of transmission. More information is needed before all the risks can be properly assessed.

The primary concern about CWD is related to the potential for misrepresenting it as being equivalent to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the infamous "mad cow disease", a prion disease of bovids (cattle). BSE has been associated with a similar infection in humans and poses worldwide concern for public health and agricultural economics. However, CWD and BSE are not the same.

Based largely on the perceived human health concerns, wildlife managers throughout western Canada and the US expend considerable time, effort, and monies on surveillance programs aimed at defining exactly where CWD occurs or does not occur in the wild.

To date, infections in wild deer and elk populations are known from a small area where Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska have shared boundaries. Wildlife agencies across Canada and the United States recently increased the surveillance efforts to look for CWD in wild deer and elk. A total of 68 cases in wild deer have been found in Saskatchewan. In addition, CWD has been found in Wisconsin, Illinois, South Dakota, New Mexico, Utah, and New York.

Alberta began surveillance of wild deer and elk in 1996. Voluntary submission of heads of hunter-killed animals is the primary source of surveillance samples. Particular emphasis is placed in getting heads of deer killed along the Alberta/ Saskatchewan border and a specified area in central Alberta. Prior to the case found near oyen, Alberta, over 6,000 samples of wild deer and elk in Alberta have been negative for CWD. Please see the CWD Surveillance Program in Alberta page for more information.

There are numerous research projects underway to better define the host range, method of transmission, diagnostic tests, impact on wild cervids, and risk to the public and livestock.

Public Significance
This disease poses significant economic problems for farmers of elk and deer. CWD was introduced into captive (=farmed) elk populations via live wild elk taken from affected areas in the US. It was then unintentionally translocated to farms in various states as well as to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Korea. As a result, the economics of trade in live elk and their products (primarily antler velvet) have been seriously affected. Also, the association with BSE has led to possible public health concerns.

To date there is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD can infect humans and growing evidence that it is indeed quite different from BSE. The US Centres for Disease Control advise that the human health risks from CWD, if any exist, are extremely low. However, as a precaution, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all products from animals known to be infected with any prion disease should be excluded from the human food chain.

CWD is a federal reportable disease in Canada and appropriate surveillance and control programs are underway. The procedures parallel those used to control and eradicate other federal reportable diseases and include

ongoing surveillance (testing of slaughtered animals, report of clinical signs),
quarantine of suspect and confirmed affected premises,
detailed traceouts from all known affected premises,
destruction of infected herds, and
compensation of owners of infected elk or deer.
Affected premises are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before they can be restocked. Similar programs are underway in the US.

In addition, Alberta has stringent programs developed among government agencies, game farmers, and other stakeholders to continually search for evidence of CWD in farmed and wild cervids as well as limit the possibility of introducing infections in animals imported into the province.


CWD has been identified in one farmed elk and two farmed white-tailed deer in Alberta and three wild mule deer near Oyen, Alberta. It is a serious health issue for wild deer and an economic concern for elk and deer farmers in Alberta. The province is committed to taking every precaution to avoid the spread of CWD in wild cervid populations. Strict programs are in place to provide continual surveillance.

Additional information concerning CWD programs and surveillance data in Alberta is available at:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3594 - Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) test results in Farmed and Wild Cervids in Alberta

Joe Manchin III, Governor

Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release : September 29, 2005

Hoy Murphy , Public Information Officer (304) 558-3380

Contact: Paul Johansen, Wildlife Resources Assistant Chief (304) 558-2771

Three Deer Confirmed Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease
In Hampshire County

Late last week, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that three free-ranging white-tailed deer collected from Hampshire County had tested “suspect positive” for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). These samples were submitted for further testing at the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and, as expected, they were confirmed to be CWD positive.

To date, the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has completed testing on a total of 121 samples submitted by the DNR from deer collected through its most recent CWD surveillance efforts in Hampshire County which began on September 14, 2005 . With the exception of these three positive deer, diagnostic test results indicated CWD was not detected in any of the remaining samples.

Immediately following confirmation earlier this month that a road-killed deer had tested positive for CWD in Hampshire County , the DNR implemented its CWD – Incident Response Plan. Deer collection teams, comprised of personnel from the Wildlife Resources and Law Enforcement Sections, began carefully coordinated deer collections within portions of Hampshire County . The three deer confirmed positive for CWD this week were collected within 2½ miles of the original positive animal. These three deer, combined with the original positive animal, brings the total number of confirmed CWD positive cases within Hampshire County to four.

“Based upon these findings, we have intensified deer collection efforts within the surveillance area to accurately determine the prevalence and distribution of CWD in this region of the state,” said DNR Director Frank Jezioro . “These surveillance efforts would not be possible without the excellent cooperation provided by local landowners, and I remain most appreciative of their assistance. As we move forward with this intensive CWD surveillance effort and implement appropriate management strategies, the continued support and involvement of both landowners and hunters will be essential.”

CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal. There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.

CWD was first recognized in 1967 in Colorado , and it subsequently had been found in captive herds in nine states and two Canadian provinces and in free-ranging deer or elk in nine states and one province. Earlier this year, the disease was found as far east as New York . The source of infection for wild and captive deer and elk in new geographical areas is unknown in many instances.

While it is not known exactly how CWD is transmitted, lateral spread from animal to animal through shedding of the infectious agent from the digestive tract appears to be important, and indirect transmission through environmental contamination with infective material is likely.

“I would like to remind the public that our Wildlife Biologists, Wildlife Managers and Conservation Officers from across the state are working hard to fully engage the DNR's CWD – Incident Response Plan,” Jezioro said. “In addition, we continue to work collaboratively on this wildlife disease situation with scientists and veterinarians from the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study stationed at the University of Georgia 's College of Veterinary Medicine.” More information on CWD can be found at the DNR's website: and the CWD Alliance website: .


Chronic wasting disease moves west

Star-Tribune correspondent Thursday, November 03, 2005

LANDER -- State and now tribal game managers have detected three new cases of chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disease that can affect all members of Wyoming’s deer family.

The new locations are in the Owl Creek drainage, north and west of Thermopolis. The disease had not previously been detected in this area.

“We’re always concerned when we have a geographic expansion of this disease,” said Terry Cleveland, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Conservation groups immediately worried about the fact that chronic wasting disease is moving ever closer to northwest Wyoming and the elk feeding grounds south of Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming has 22 elk feedgrounds, plus the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson.

“It’s clear that CWD is moving west across Wyoming, right towards the elk feedgrounds,” said Lloyd Dorsey, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition representative in Jackson. “We've known for years that CWD is expanding its range, and unfortunately for our elk populations little has been done to alleviate the extreme wintertime densities of elk on feedgrounds which are perfect conditions for this disease and others to erupt. The time to phase out elk feedgrounds is now, before CWD hits.”

On Friday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced that two mule deer bucks, taken just north by northwest of Thermopolis in the lower Owl Creek drainage, had tested positive for the disease. On Wednesday, the Shoshone and Arapaho Fish and Game Department announced that a whitetail buck, taken one mile east of the Arapaho Ranch headquarters, had also tested positive. Ranch headquarters are in the upper Owl Creek drainage, in the northeast quadrant of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The case on the reservation, about 20 miles due west of Thermopolis, is the most western case in the state. The most northern case was reported two years ago, south of Worland.

Larry Makeshine, director of the tribal department, said the whitetail buck appeared to be healthy when it was shot and killed by a tribal hunter. The lymph nodes of the deer were among a batch of 30 tissue samples sent for testing at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s laboratory in Laramie.

Game and Fish Deputy Director Gregg Arthur directed Game and Fish personnel in the Cody region to remove up to 50 deer within a five-mile radius of where the two Thermopolis-area deer were killed.

He said that surveillance in other states has shown that it may be possible to slow down the spread of the disease if new cases are identified early.

Game and Fish Director Cleveland said 15 more deer in the area had been shot and tested since Oct. 27. “We haven’t had any more cases in that hunt area.”

According to Arthur, the additional sampling serves three purposes.

* First, it allows Game and Fish to determine the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in an area.

* Second, it may eliminate the disease in an area and prevent its spread to other areas.

* Third, it may allow Game and Fish to locate an area of infection that it can manage aggressively.

“Should more positives turn up, we will expand our efforts,” Arthur said.

Makeshine said no decision has been made as of yet on how the tribes will respond to the case on the reservation. Cleveland said that whatever the tribes decide, Wyoming Game and Fish will fully cooperate.

Conservationists said the new cases show the agency should move quickly to protect elk in feedground areas.

"When this kind of threat occurs, specific proposals like closing elk feeding grounds, reducing competition between wildlife and cattle grazing on public land and checking all slaughter cattle for signs of mad cow disease should be seriously heeded," said Meredith Taylor of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. "This is a wildlife time-bomb waiting to go off.”

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that has been diagnosed in wild deer and elk in 10 states and two Canadian provinces. Animals show no apparent signs of illness throughout much of disease course. In terminal stages, animals typically are emaciated and display abnormal behavior.

Tom Roffe, an infectious disease expert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the death toll among elk, after chronic wasting hits the feeding grounds, would be far greater than starvation losses from simply closing elk feedgrounds.

The closest comparison would be what has happened on commercial game farms, which have sustained 50 to 70 percent mortality when the disease hits, he said.

“But you can’t say what will happen on a feedground, based on game farm experience, because as soon as they noticed chronic wasting disease, they depopulated the game farms,” Roffe said.

Dave Gowdy, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said closing the feedgrounds is highly controversial. But eventually, he said, Wyoming must acquire enough conservation easements or properties surrounding the feedgrounds to allow them to be closed and the elk both dispersed and well fed through harsh winters. The big question, he said, is whether Wyoming can achieve that goal before the disease hits the feedgrounds.


Division of Wildlife

Hunter Harvested Moose Tests Positive for CWD

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has confirmed that a bull moose killed by an archer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The moose was submitted for testing on Sept. 12.

CWD was diagnosed in testing completed by the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Diagnostic lab. Because this is the first time CWD has been found in a wild moose, testing will be repeated on this sample.

Until now CWD had only been found in the wild in deer and elk.

The DOW and CSU have worked together to develop the most efficient and accurate CWD testing program in the country. CWD testing for moose was made mandatory in Colorado in 2003. Since 2002, 288 moose have been tested and the disease was not detected.

Nearly 13,000 deer and elk were submitted for CWD testing between Aug. 2004 and April 2005. Of those animals, 175 tested positive for CWD.

“This is a single case of CWD in moose, but given their social habits we believe that cases in moose are likely to be a rare occurrence,” said Mike Miller, wildlife veterinarian with the DOW.

Deer, elk and moose are all members of the deer family. But unlike deer and elk, moose do not form herds or large social groups. Moose are typically solitary animals and generally only stay with other moose in cow-calf pairs.

The moose was harvested legally by a licensed archery hunter in GMU 171, which is located in Jackson County, south of Cameron Pass.

The hunter who submitted the moose for testing was contacted and will have the choice of having his license fee refunded or receiving a cow moose license for the same Game Management Unit this year. He will also receive a refund from the DOW for the cost of processing the animal.

The hunter said that he is pleased that the DOW has the testing system available and he is glad to be able to contribute to the ongoing scientific research on CWD.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that has been diagnosed in wild deer and elk in ten states and two Canadian provinces. Animals show no apparent signs of illness throughout much of disease course. In terminal stages of CWD, animals typically are emaciated and display abnormal behavior.

Epidemiologists with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have found no link between CWD and any human neurological disorders.


New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000



SANTA FE – New Mexico hunters have submitted more than 75 deer and elk to be tested for chronic wasting disease since hunting seasons began Sept. 1, and the Department of Game and Fish is encouraging more hunters to participate as the 2005-2006 seasons continue throughout the state.

Kerry Mower, the lead wildlife disease biologist with the Department of Game and Fish, said although hunters statewide are encouraged to bring their animals in for testing, the program this year is especially aimed at hunters in a small portion of Unit 34 in the southern Sacramento Mountains. That CWD control area, an approximately 200 square-mile portion of Unit 34 near Timberon and Weed, was where officials identified the state's 12 th and most recent CWD-infected deer.

There is no evidence of chronic wasting disease being transmitted to humans or livestock. The testing program and other CWD-related hunting rules are efforts to monitor the disease and prevent its spread.

Hunters whose deer or elk are tested will be informed of test results ONLY if the animal tests positive for CWD. Results for all animals tested – positive and negative -- will be posted by license number on the Department's web site, , as soon as the Department receives the results from the laboratory in Albuquerque. Testing normally takes eight to 10 weeks.

About 6,000 deer and elk hunters will participate in various hunts throughout Unit 34 during the 2005-2006 seasons. Of those, about 1,500 are expected to be successful. The CWD control area comprises about 15 percent of Unit 34.

The CWD restrictions affect which body parts of deer and elk harvested within the control area may be removed from Unit 34. A map showing the boundaries of the Control Area and locations of check stations may be seen and downloaded from the Department web site, . Information also is available at license vendors in the southeastern New Mexico, at Game and Fish offices in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Roswell and Raton; or by calling (505) 476-8000.

The restrictions include:

• No portion of the spinal cord or backbone may be removed from Unit 34 if the animal was killed in the Control Area.
• Only boned-out meat and quarters with bones attached (no spinal cord or backbone) may be transported out of Unit 34 if the animal was killed in the Control Area.
• Also acceptable for removal from Unit 34 is cut and wrapped meat, hides with no heads attached, clean skull plates with antlers attached, antlers with no meat or tissue attached, upper canine teeth (“ivories”) and finished heads mounted by a taxidermist within the unit.
• Proof of sex must be kept with all game species: antlers attached to skull plates; and for cow elk, scalps with ears.
• Skull plates can be removed from the unit only after they are decontaminated by soaking them in a solution of 50 percent chlorine bleach and 50 percent water for 20 minutes. Decontamination baths will be available at check stations near Sunspot and at the Weed Fire Station.
• Hunter check stations near Sunspot and at the Weed Fire Station will be staffed by the Department of Game and Fish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays through Mondays to collect tissue samples, assist hunters with decontamination and to ensure CWD restrictions and other game laws are observed. Self-service decontamination baths and sample collection bins will be available at the stations at other times.
• A hunter who legally kills a deer or elk in the Control Area can take it home or to a taxidermist or meat packer without first de-boning the meat or quartering the animal as long as their home, taxidermist or meat packer is in Unit 34.
• A hunter who legally kills a deer or elk outside the Control Area but within Unit 34 may transport the entire animal out of the unit as usual.

CWD is fatal to deer and elk, causing the animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and lose control of bodily functions. The origin of CWD in New Mexico is unknown. The disease has been found in 12 wild deer in New Mexico since 2002, when it was first discovered at the main headquarters housing area of White Sands Missile Range east of Las Cruces. To date, no CWD-infected elk have been found in New Mexico, although the disease has been found in wild and captive deer, elk and one moose in eight states and two Canadian provinces.

For more information about chronic wasting disease and how hunters can assist in research and prevention efforts, visit the Department web site at . More information about chronic wasting disease also can be found on the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site at .



Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC)

Recommendations for Disposing of Taxidermy

and Processing Waste from Deer

In recent years, concerns have increased about the possibility of moving disease from one

state to another via deer and elk carcasses, or taxidermy specimens. The U.S., for instance,

strictly regulates the import of African taxidermy specimens, due to the presence of foot-andmouth

disease (FMD) in Africa. For this same reason, game meat from Africa cannot be


Although the U.S. has not seen FMD since 1929, a number of domestic diseases are known

to affect game animals. Bovine tuberculosis, or cattle TB, (Mycobacterium bovis) affects

some deer and elk in parts of Michigan and could be transported to another site in a carcass.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), though not known to be a human health threat,

causes worry among states. Moving a CWD-affected carcass -- and particularly lymph

nodes, the brain and the spinal cord -- could potentially create environmental contamination

that may infect deer in another area. This situation recently rose to the forefront in New

York, when the state’s first known CWD-infected animal was a white-tailed deer doe owned

by a taxidermist. The investigation in New York now indicates that taxidermy specimens

from other states were not involved.

While tanned hides and capes create very low risk for disease transmission, "green" hides

and material trimmed from the cape and skull (including brain material) pose a higher risk.

Proper disposal of all waste material is essential to prevent potential disease transmission.

Some accepted means of disposal include:

Incinerating organic waste material in an approved incinerator, not by open

burning, even in a pit. Open burning usually violates clean air statutes.

Burying organic waste material under at least 6 feet of soil. Dumping the

waste material on open ground is not acceptable, as it makes waste

material available to scavengers, such as feral pigs, coyotes, vultures, deer or

other game animals.

Placing organic waste material in a legal land fill. Always obtain permission

from the land fill operator. These sites are acceptable, as the waste should be

covered that day.

Using acceptable disposal methods reduces the risk of disease and helps to protect Texas’

wildlife, hunting, and associated industries for future generations.



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