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Chronic wasting disease found in deer in southern Arkansas

December 2, 2021 GMT

STRONG, Ark. (AP) — Chronic wasting disease has been found in a deer in southern Arkansas, near the Louisiana state line, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reported Thursday.

The deer was harvested in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Union County, the commission said, and a sample was confirmed with the fatal disease that affects deer, elk, caribou and moose in 26 states nationwide.

There are no reported cases of CWD in humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the agency recommends against eating infected meat.

The source of CWD found in the Arkansas deer is unknown as the nearest known positive case was 120 miles (193 kilometers) away in Issaquena County, Mississippi, and is more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) from the nearest known positive case in Arkansas, the commission said.

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“With this positive case being so far from any previously known source, we’ve already begun working on ways to gather more samples from the surrounding area to determine the extent of the infection in this part of the state,” said Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s Research Division.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on Thursday declared an emergency ban on feeding and baiting in nearby Morehouse and Union parishes beginning Monday. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said it will increase surveillance for the disease in those parishes.

Chronic wasting disease is spread by contact with infected saliva, blood, urine, feces, food, water and soil.

Symptoms in the animals include weight loss, excessive salivation, teeth grinding, head tremors, excessive urination and thirst, lowering their heads and separating from their herds, according to the commission.