Chronic wasting disease or “zombie deer disease” has affected almost half of the United States within the past year.
Missouri has not been so lucky to avoid the disease either, even though it is not as widespread as other states. But getting down to northwest Missouri specifically there are only a couple counties that have issues with CWD.
“The only place in Northwest Missouri is in Linn, Sullivan and Macon counties on the east side. On the west side we have not had too many problems with it,” Mitch Miller, wildlife regional supervisor at the wildlife regional supervisor at the Northwest Regional Office in St. Joseph, said.
Miller wanted it to be made known that if deer are shot and found in those specific counties in our area, then those deer need to be brought in for testing.
How the testing works is that the lymph nodes will be taken out of the deer and sent to a lab in Missouri that can identify it. The hunter will be notified within two to four weeks. Miller advised that no deer meat from the animal in question be consumed until the results come back.
“The research so far has not indicated humans have been able to get it from CWD-detected animals,” Miller said. “And like any other animal, we recommend you not eat it.”
Are there physical signs that point to the disease in the animal?
“No, most of the time the deer will appear healthy. The positive deer that I have seen I could not have thought that deer could have been detected,” Miller said.
CWD can break a deer down over a long period of time. It is not a quick-acting disease, which allows the disease to spread like wildfire if it is not controlled.
“It can persist in a deer for 18 to 24 months possibly. It can get in its system and to their brain where it starts to break them down,” Miller said. “Please report unhealthy deer all throughout the year, not just in the seasons.”
With how the disease spreads it is a good idea to go get your deer checked, even if the deer was not hunted from one of the counties listed in our area known to have the disease.
“We recommend all hunters get their deer tested,” Miller said.