A fatal disease affecting deer has appeared in Alcorn and Tippah counties, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks announced this week.
Two hunter-harvested bucks recently tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease – the first positive tests for the two counties. The samples are going to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for final confirmation.
“I highly encourage all of our hunters who are harvesting deer to have them tested. It will help MDWF&P keep a handle on where this disease is progressing,” said Patrick Poindexter, county director with the MSU Extension Office.
Alcorn, Prentiss and Tippah counties are part of a CWD management zone with various restrictions, such as that carcasses may not be transported out of the zone.
There is no cost involved for the hunter in getting remains tested.
“We have the MDWF&P freezer located on the back porch of the Extension Office,” said Poindexter. “There’s forms and bags and tags that you fill out. It’s an easy process and they are monitoring that freezer and picking up every week, at least.”
Within the management zone, supplemental feeding in the form of salt licks, mineral licks and feeders are banned because of the risk of transmission.
A contagious neurological disease affecting white-tailed deer and mule deer, CWD has been detected in eight Mississippi counties. According to the MSU Extension Service, it causes a spongy degeneration of the brain and also causes the animal to lose weight. Infected deer may behave in unusual ways, such as exhibiting no fear of humans. An infected animal will drool, lower its head, walk in repetitive patters, have a blank facial expression and sometimes grind its teeth.
Public health professionals recommend that people avoid exposure to CWD. There has not been a reported case of a human contracting the disease.
In general, it remains safe to consume venison, according to MSU, but people should not eat meat from a deer known or suspected to be infected.
The first positive case in Mississippi was confirmed in February 2018.