Testing continues but no positive results for deer disease

Posted at 2:43 PM, Apr 06, 2018

Initial sampling efforts by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for chronic wasting disease in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes have not turned up any positive results of the disease.

Wildlife and Fisheries has sampled 188 deer from the three parishes, located in northeast Louisiana, with results received back on 114 of the specimens on April 3, with no positives detected. The results from the other 74 samples will be received within the next three weeks while additional sampling continues inside the buffer zone area within these parishes.

The sampling measures are part of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. It was triggered by the discovery of a buck that tested positive for the disease in Issaquena County, Mississippi, on Jan. 25. Issaquena County borders northeast Louisiana and the deer was found only a few miles from the Louisiana border on the east side of the Mississippi River.

The Department’s target sample size is 300 deer within the buffer zone, which is within 25 miles of the case in Issaquena County. This sample size will provide a 95 percent confidence interval that sampling would detect for the disease at a prevalence rate of one percent. The Department continues to work with private landowners to obtain consent for sampling efforts and would like to thank landowners who have been willing to assist and cooperate with the sampling project.

Mississippi has also sampled in the area in its state and, with 158 results back, has not detected the disease outside the one case in Issaquena County.

In addition to the LDWF sampling, supplemental deer feeding in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes has been suspended as part of the response plan.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. It is infectious and always fatal. It is part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) of cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue that leads to salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of the animal.   

Deer infected with the disease can spread it even before symptoms develop. It can take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic. When symptoms appear, they can include emaciation, lethargy, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. Other signs include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, teeth grinding and drooping ears.

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