A confirmed case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found in Macon County. It is only the second case of the disease ever found in Missouri. Both have been in captive deer and not in the wild population.
The discovery comes during bowhunting deer season, and with other deer hunting seasons about to begin. The Conservation Department says hunters should not be concerned, however.
According to Deer Biologist Jason Sumners, CWD effects only cervids, or creatures like deer and elk. Humans, livestock, and even hunting dogs who might get to share some of the spoils of a hunt have not been shown to be at risk to catch this neurological disease.
The discovery has triggered an enhanced surveillance effort. Details are being developed, but Sumners says more free-ranging white tail deer in-and-around Macon County will be monitored for other cases of the disease.
That the increased surveillance will happen as deer hunting seasons are winding up works to the Department’s advantage. Sumners says the primary source of samples will be deer brought to processors and taxidermists in the region.
Surveillance for CWD is not new, however. The Department has been monitoring for the disease for years, knowing that it exists in nearby states and other regions of the U.S. and Canada. Since 2002, over 36,000 deer in Missouri have been tested.
Infected deer will appear emaciated or otherwise sickly. Sumners says any time a sick animal is spotted, local conservation agents should be contacted.
His message to hunters is that they should be concerned about the long-term impact the introduction of CWD could pose to the Missouri deer population. He says, however, they should not be worried about eating the deer they harvest, and he wishes them good luck this hunting season.
AUDIO: Listen to Mike Lear’s interview with Deer Biologist Jason Sumners – 6:57