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10% Of Deer Have CWD, KDWPT Says

Jennifer Smith

Posted on March 05 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) --- More than 10% tests for the so-called "zombie deer disease" this year have come back positive, according to the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

The agency says they have collected and tested samples from 360 deer and 37 of those samples were confirmed to have Chronic Wasting Disease.

Officials mainly focused on deer killed by hunters in the southwest part of the state, however they did test ones found in other parts of the state that were sick or suspected of having CWD.

The 37 confirmed positives came from deer taken in Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton, Phillips, Smith, Thomas, Sheridan, Gove, Rooks, Osborne, Scott, Lane, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Ford, Edwards, Stafford, Reno, and Pratt counties.

While CWD was previously found in many of those counties, KDWPT says the following were added to the list as it spreads south and east:

  • Edwards
  • Haskell
  • Osborne
  • Pratt
  • Reno

KDWPT recommends hunters who take a deer from one of the locations where CWD has been found have them tested, whether or not they have been exhibiting symptoms. Officials also ask any sick deer or elk who show symptoms to report it to the nearest KDWPT office or the agency's Emporia Research and Survey Office, 620-342-0658.

Chronic Wasting Disease is in the same family as the human form of “mad cow disease.”

Symptoms of CWD in animals include: stumbling, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, aggression, lack of fear of people, and drastic weight loss.

The disease is spread directly by animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through contaminated water and food.

The CDC says “to date, there is no strong evidence for the occurrence of CWD in people;” but if CWD could spread to people, “it would most likely be through eating of infected deer and elk.”

There have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people.

Still, experimental studies “raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposures to CWD.”

The CDC recommends that hunters harvesting wild deer and elk from areas where CWD has been reported “strongly consider” having the animals tested for the disease before eating the meat.

Another CDC recommendation: “Hunters harvesting wild deer and elk from areas with reported CWD should check state wildlife and public health guidance to see whether testing of animals is recommended or required in a given state or region.”

The CDC also recommends that hunters shouldn’t shoot, handle or eat meat from animals that show symptoms of CWD.

Story re-posted from 13 WIBW. Written by Nick Viviani.