CWD DEER COUNT UP TO 19
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The number of deer in Mississippi affected by Chronic Wasting Disease continues to ratchet upward. As of this writing, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), there have been 19 confirmed cases of the neurological disease known to be 100% fatal to deer.
Many are making the comparison to the Mad Cow Disease European outbreak of the late 1980's, when thousands of British cattle were affected. In that outbreak, by 1996, nearly 200 people who consumed the tainted beef died when the virus that causes MCD -- what experts describe as "spongiform encephalopathy" -- morphed into a human form equally as fatal. The similarity to CWD lies in the prions -- or misfolded proteins -- that can lead to a neurodegenerative condition -- "wasting" -- that ultimately leads to death.
We've known about Chronic Wasting Disease for half a century, though there's a difference in the way experts characterize it. The first case wasn't reported in Mississippi until 2018. A representative of the MDWFP told me -- as did CWD expert Dr. Bronson Strickland of Mississippi State University -- that although some media outlets are calling the condition "Zombie Deer Disease" while casting a concern that it, too, could ultimately be transmitted to humans, no such cases have been reported. Thousands of deer have been tested with negative results.
Bottom line, there's not likely to be a real cause for extreme worry according to the experts who are keeping watch on the spread of CWD in the deer population. In any event, if you're a hunter, have your kills tested. If the meat's not affected (which it probably won't be), you'll be able to consume the meat worry-free.
For more information, check out Extension's page on Chronic Wasting Disease at extension.msstate.edu/cwd, or visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks at www.MDWFP.com. Click on “Wildlife and Hunting,” then on Chronic Wasting Disease.