Follow guidelines to avoid the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Chronic Wasting Disease is a serious issue for hunters and wildlife conservationists. Although it had not been previously observed anywhere in Mississippi, an infected buck was recently found in Issaquena County. This discovery sparked fear among many that the disease may spread further into surrounding counties, with Claiborn, Hinds, Sharkey, Warren and Yazoo County all being placed on alert. CWD is a disease that affects the nervous systems of animals such as elk, deer, and moose.  Currently, there are no proven ways to test live animals for the disease, though there are several obvious symptoms to watch for, according to a Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks’ press release.  Animals affected by the disease tend to separate themselves from their herd, lose weight, become excessively thirsty and carry their head low to the ground.

It is currently unknown how exactly the disease is spread. However, it is believed by many researchers that the disease is spread from animal to animal, possibly through feces, urine or saliva, according to the article. While Pearl River County is not currently listed as a county in immediate danger, other states can be used as an example for how fast the disease can spread across a state.

To combat that possibility, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks released several suggestions to avoid the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. The Department suggests that, for the time being, citizens cease supplmenetal feeding wild deer. While hunting, MDWFP warns against shooting an animal showing symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease. When dressing a harvested deer, hunters should wear gloves and avoid cutting through bone, the spinal chord or the brain, since the disease primarily affects the nervous system. Cutting out fatty meat that may contain lymph nodes is also recommended.

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While it is unknown whether the disease has any impact on human beings, the Department’s release states that it is important to avoid eating or handling potentially contaminated meat.

Since the environmental impact of this disease is currently unknown, it is important to follow the Department’s recommended guidelines to help avoid the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease into Pearl River County.