Mississippi wildlife officials are awaiting definitive results from the National Veterinary Sciences Laboratory in Iowa before beginning a response to a suspected case of chronic wasting disease in a deer discovered earlier this month in Pontotoc County.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks announced late Friday that “a 1.5-year-old male white-tailed deer collected on Oct. 8, 2018, in Pontotoc County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from initial testing.”
No other information has been provided as to how the deer was found, reported or preliminarily tested. Attempts to reach Russ Walsh, the MDWFP’s Wildlife Bureau executive director, for further comment Monday weren’t successful.
This is the second deer in 2018 to test positive for CWD in Mississippi — the first was in February across the state and further south in Issaquena County — and it appears the two cases are unrelated. Extensive sampling in the Issaquena area and other areas of Mississippi since February resulted in no more positive CWD samples, until Friday.
In response to the Issaquena deer, the MDWFP established a 25-mile buffer zone around the location where it was found and banned supplemental feeding immediately and later, this fall, reduced the zone to a smaller area and enacted new restrictions that include a ban on supplemental feeding that includes feeders, salt licks and mineral licks.
The MDWFP took this action to limit the most effective means of CWD transmission between deer — direct contact with prions (protein cells) from an infected deer. Tests show that saliva likely has the highest concentration of prions.
Also, transportation of deer killed during the 2018-19 season in the CWD zone is limited. The only portions of a harvested deer that can be legally removed from the zone are:
* Cut/wrapped meat (commercially or privately).
* Deboned meat (which can be processed outside the management zone).
* Hides with no head attached.
* Finished taxidermy.
* Antlers with no tissue attached.
* Cleaned skull plates (no brain tissue).
* Cleaned skulls (no lymphoid or brain tissue).
If the Iowa test confirms CWD, hunters near the Pontotoc County location can expect immediate changes in deer hunting regulations.