A suspected second case of chronic wasting disease in Issaquena County has been confirmed, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks announced this week.
The 2½-year-old doe was taken Nov. 1 by a hunter on public lands, the agency press release said.
“This deer was harvested by a hunter on Mahannah Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and voluntarily submitted to our drop-off station located on site,” said Russ Walsh, Executive Wildlife Director. “We have seen great participation so far this season, but we still need hunters to continue providing samples as part of our state wide monitoring effort.”
Mississippi’s first confirmed case of CWD, a protein-based (prion) disease that is thought to be 100 percent fatal to cervids like deer and elk, was found in January in Issaquena County. The doe was killed about six miles north as the crow flies from the first deer, a 4½-year-old buck, which puts the second one within the Issaquena CWD Management Area and means no immediate regulation changes are necessary.
The second case is still an important find.
“It tells us that buck wasn’t the only one,” Walsh told The Clarion-Ledger. “He had to contract it from another deer. What it tells us is we need to continue moving forward in this process to determine prevalence and geographic extent of the disease.”
Mississippi also has a Pontotoc CWD Management Area, about 200 miles northeast of Issaquena County. A landowner near the town of Ecru, about 10 miles north of Pontotoc, killed a 1½-year-old buck that had walked into his yard in October and was acting strange around the family dog.
That such a young deer was confirmed is important, since deer usually don’t start showing the symptoms of CWD until 14 to18 months after contracting the disease.
Walsh said that would mean the young buck either was infected at birth or immediately thereafter, meaning somewhere nearby in Pontotoc County there is another deer with CWD.
Walsh said that since Oct. 1 (opening of archery season), 1,202 deer have been tested, most of them from deer hunters. Only the two, the buck in Pontotoc County and the doe in Issaquena, have tested positive for CWD.
Walsh said he expects to test many more, and said it was important to do so. In addition to several scheduled “peak-day” check-in stations in both the Issaquena and Pontotoc CWD Zones, the agency now has a statewide system for hunters to have their deer tested.
Visit mdwfp.com for links to collection stations throughout the state. There is no fee charged, and the samples will be sent to the state’s veterinary diagnostic lab in Pearl for preliminary testing. Any tissues testing positive will be sent to a national lab in Iowa for confirmation.
While CWD has never been proven to infect humans, consuming venison from a CWD infected deer is not recommended.