Chronic Wasting Disease is something that has recently been discovered and will be talked about much more in the future and here is why.
CWD is a neurological disease that affects deer and has been recently discovered in Issaquena County, Mississippi, which borders East Carroll and Madison Parishes.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Deer Program Manager Johnathan Bordelon said CWD is considered to be the most serious disease in deer.
"It is always fatal for the deer that contracts the disease," he said. "Louisiana has not detected the disease in our state, but with the disease being discovered so nearby in Mississippi we have amped up our surveillance and testing. We are working with landowners and getting samples to test. We have tested 85,000 deer in Louisiana since 2002."
The discovery of the disease in Mississippi makes it the 25th state to confirm the presence of the disease.
Bordelon said the disease is nearly impossible to get rid of once it comes to an area due to the fact that it is a mutated protein, called a prion, which binds to soil and particles and plants. There is no way to decontaminate an area once the soil has been contaminated.
"This disease will persist in an environment without a living host," he said. "It is not like a virus or a bacteria that needs a host to survive. It can live for many years in an environment. This is why prevention is everything. We need to detect the disease early, before it spreads. Infected deer can have the disease for two years before any symptoms are even displayed. The most common route of transfer is from deer to deer. A sick deer will infect a healthy deer through shedding, urine, feces and saliva."
Bordelon said the Center For Disease Control stated that although CWD has not been found to infect humans, no person should consume a deer that has tested positive for CWD.
According to the LDWLF Website CWC is part of a "group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is similar to BSE (mad cow disease) in cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases causes irreversible damage to brain tissue, which leads to excessive salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of an animal."
"For years they did not think that mad cow disease spreads to humans, until 1997," Bordelon said. "It is important to take the necessary precautions and to be educated."
To have a deer tested they must be dead and it may take up to a month to get results back, he said.
"Symptoms to look for in a deer include excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive salivation, grinding of teeth, head lowering and extreme thinness," he said. "Because the disease attacks the central nervous system, the deer may also lose cognitive abilities and stand around in the same place for long periods of time. But just because symptoms are exhibited, it does not mean they have the disease."
For more information on CWC, or to see about having a deer tested, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/CWD or call the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.