Hundreds of the deer being killed during this hunting season are being checked to make sure they don’t have a disease Missouri doesn’t want to see.
Taxidermists in the middle third of the state are checking the brains of some of the killed deer for signs of chronic wasting disease. It’s a brain disease that causes disorientation, deterioration of the nervous system, loss of weight, and eventually death. Sometimes it causes deer to lose their fear of humans.
The Centers for Disease Controls says there’s no evidence the disease can be transferred to humans but they urge people to take routine precautions when handling carcasses of animals.
The conservation department has been testing deer for the disease. Biologist Lonnie Hanson wants to stay ahead of it. "It’s very slowly creeping toward us," he says, "We’ve got many different they can get here and we just hope they don’t get here."
There’s no known vaccine against Chronic Wasting Disease. One of the best ways to limit its spread is by spotting it and culling the herds where it’s found before the disease can badly damage a deer herd. It has been spotted in several states around us—central Nebraska, northern Illinois, northern Kansas. Hanson thinks we’ll see it eventually in Missouri. Spotting it early could control an outbreak.