By Alyssa Schnugg
Two cases of a debilitating deer disease have been confirmed in Panola and Tallahatchie counties, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
MDWFP received confirmation that a female white-tailed deer from Panola County and a female white-tailed deer from Tallahatchie County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. These are the first deer to test positive for CWD in both counties.
The Panola County deer was a diseased deer report and the Tallahatchie County deer was hunter-harvested.
MDWFP will be assessing management zone changes to include these counties as per the CWD Response Plan.
During the 2018-19 season, MDWFP received more than 7,000 samples through hunter-harvested, road-killed, and reported diseased deer. To date, Mississippi has 15 confirmed CWD positives and four suspect positives awaiting confirmation.
The contagious and always fatal neurological disease is caused by a contagious, fatal prion, or abnormal protein, that affects cervids such as white-tailed deer, elk and mule deer. For some animals, it may be a year or more before symptoms develop, which can include drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness and other neurological symptoms.
Infected animals shed prions through saliva, feces, blood, and urine. Other animals can become infected through direct contact with an infected animal and through indirect contact from an infected environment. Once the disease occurs in an area, the evidence demonstrates eradication is unlikely.
There is no cure and no vaccine for the disease.
There are currently no documented cases of humans contracting CWD, either by interacting with deer or eating deer; however, MDWFP officials have previously said that it can’t be ruled out as a rare possibility.