LOWNDES COUNTY Miss. and LAMAR COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – As hunters head to the woods, they have been asked to watch for deer that have signs of chronic wasting disease.
It is contagious among deer and is always fatal to the animal.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks there have been 19 confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in Mississippi.
The department has asked all hunters to have their deer tested.
Wildlife Biologist John Gruchy said Chronic Wasting Disease has shown up in deer in several northern Mississippi counties. And, in the Delta.
“It is a prion disease or it’s a protein disease that’s transmissible from deer to deer and it causes lesions in their brain and ultimately death,” said Gruchy.
This disease can grow in deer from months to years with no physical signs of infection.
Gruchy said hunters should have their deer checked.
“We want people to know there’s never been an actual case of a human being contracting Chronic Wasting Disease from eating the meat of an infected animal. It helps the agency in terms of our availability to manage or monitor the disease. We want to know the location and prevalence of the disease that most way for us to do that is to get hunters submitted samples, ” said Gruchy.
The steps to having your deer tested are very simple.
“We would ask hunters come to the drop off locations, having removed the head from their deer they can also take the antlers off before they get here. If they can leave us four to six inches of the neck of the animal that gives us a little easier time testing the animal, ” said Gruchy.
During drop-off, Gruchy said to place your bag in the cooler, take a receipt.
Results are usually available in about three weeks.
Meat processors can also analyze deer.
“We have teamed up with Alabama Wildlife and Fishery. What we do, is we take samples and we turn them into the biologist and they turn them in and they have them tested to make sure these animals are not infected,” said owner of Hunter’s Gold Deer Processing Adrian Van Zyl.
Zyl said he processes around 60 to 70 deer per day.
Even though the state of Alabama hasn’t seen any reports of CWD, Van Zyl said it’s important his customers are given the best quality of cuts all beginning with an examination.
“Being able to look at your meat and make sure that your meat is clean, that’s it not infected, it doesn’t have a smell, make sure there’s no blisters in the rib cage, ” said Zyl.
In the meantime, hunters should practice safety precautions and have their deer tested located in their hunting areas.
If you have any questions about Chronic Wasting Disease or would like to find a drop location in Mississippi, click here.