A disease that threatens the state’s deer population has been found in a fourth Missouri county.
The latest deer to test positive for Chronic Wasting Disease was shot by a hunter in Franklin County, just west of St. Louis. Since 2012 the disease has also been found in free-ranging deer from Adair and Macon counties in northeast Missouri, and in central Missouri’s Cole County. As of June, CWD had been found in 26 free-ranging deer and 11 captive deer.
The disease causes the degeneration of brain tissue in deer and other members of the deer family, slowly leading to death. The disease has no vaccine or cure and is 100-percent fatal to cervids. Research is still being done on whether the disease poses any threat to humans. As of 2014 there is no evidence humans can be infected with CWD.
The Conservation Department does not expect short-term deer population impacts from CWD, but said research from other states where the disease has been found shows it can have serious long-term consequences on the health of a state’s deer herd.
The discovery in Adair, Macon, and Cole counties of CWD triggered the creation of “CWD management zones” in 19 counties including and surrounding those. Special regulations and guidelines were enforced in those counties governing the use of deer attractants, the moving of carcasses and meat, and hunting regulations.
The Department has not said whether such special enforcement efforts could be enacted in and around Franklin County.