PONTOTOC COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Deer season is now underway.
However, while state agencies want everyone to enjoy the season, there’s one major concern they’re warning hunters to be aware of, Chronic Wasting Disease.
Chronic wasting disease is a brain disease found in deer that causes small lesions on the brain of infected animals.
On Thursday, The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks informed hundreds of deer hunters and concerned residents about the deadly disease.
“Chronic Wasting Disease is a mis-folded protein that accumulates in the lymphatic and nervous tissue of white-tail deer, and it causes them to slowly decline in health, and ultimately it’s always fatal,” said Russ Walsh, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Executive Director.
For some animals, it may be a year or more before symptoms start to develop, which includes excessive saliva and progressive weight loss among others.
So far this year, MDWFP confirms two cases of CWD has been found in Mississippi.
The first case was of CWD was found in Issaquena County back in February, and the most recent case was found in Pontotoc County just last month.
Walsh said his agency is now on a mission to prevent the contagious disease from spreading to other animals throughout the state.
“Our goal right now is to monitor the extent, the geographic extent of this disease as well as the prevalence, meaning how many deer have it, and determine where it is, and we will develop a strategy for moving forward on how to mitigate this disease,” said Walsh.
To help get out in font of the disease, state agencies are now relying on help from hunters.
MDWFP said everyone can still enjoy the deer hunting season.
However, whenever a hunter kills a deer, the agency is asking for that person to submit samples of the animal into the department.
“There’s a variety of ways that they can do that,” Walsh explained. “We’ll have man check stations through the deer season where they can bring the deer to us, we have freezers where they can drop the heads off. All of this is voluntary, but we’re encouraging hunters to do that so that again, we can monitor for this disease.”
CWD can be passed from one deer to the next through a variety of ways including feces, urine, or saliva.
Once an animal tests positive for the disease, state agencies will implement a feeding ban as another way prevent it from spreading.
“So in the CWD Management Zone which incorporates Union and Pontotoc Counties, as well as all portions of Lee County west of highway 45,” said Walsh. “There’s no supplemental feeding, carcasses may not be transported outside of the zone, so there are some regulations in place. ”
According to the Missisppi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, CWD is already present among deer in 25 states.
There’s currently no cure for the disease.
While there have been no reported cases of humans catching the disease, experts recommend not eating the deer meat until after all test results from that have been returned.
For more information on CWD just visit for more https://www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/chronic-wasting-disease/ information.