STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – There’s a fatal and infectious disease found in the deer population and it’s showing signs of spreading across the Magnolia State.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, 40 cases of Chronic Wasting Disease have been reported.
“It’s spread from contact of an infected animal within an uninfected animal,” said Dr. Steve Demarais, a Mississippi State Wildlife and Management Professor. “The disease agent is called a prion. It’s a protein that’s produced in the infected animal and it can be shed in the saliva, and urine, and feces.”
Cases have been confirmed in Benton, Marshall, Issaquena, Panola, Pontotoc, and Tallahatchie counties.
Dr. Demarais said North Mississippi is seeing the most cases.
He believes it’s because the disease is spreading from deer in Southern Tennessee.
“There are five counties there that have had over 400 positive cases just this year,” said Demarais. “Deer disperse from where they’re produced typically. Bucks can disburse five to ten miles from their birth area. If that buck becomes infected in their birth area and they disburse five miles, then they’ve just transmitted the disease agent five miles away.”
Demarais is calling the rapid spread of CWD alarming.
“It’s a disease that kills every positively infected animal, and I’m concerned about it affecting hunters interest in hunting deer, and then eating the meat from harvested animals,” Demarais expressed.
The wildlife biologist said continued to harvesting and testing may help reduce the spread of the disease.
“By harvesting more deer, the hunters are helping control the disease, and then by testing, we’re learning about the distribution and rate of spread of the disease in the state,” said Demarais.
The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks encourages all hunters to have their animals tested.
There is 36 drop off locations all throughout the state.
Click here for more information on those locations and the disease.