Initial sampling efforts for chronic wasting disease in Northeast Louisiana’s deer herd have not turned up any positive results for the disease, according to a news release from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

LDWF has sampled 188 deer from East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes, and have received results back on 114 specimens, with no positives detected, the release states. Additional sampling will continue within a 25-mile buffer zone from Issaquena County, Miss., where a deer tested positive for CWD in January. (Issaquena County borders Northeast Louisiana, and the CWD-positive deer was found only a few miles from the Louisiana border on the east side of the Mississippi River.)

The department’s target sample size is 300 deer from the buffer zone, which will provide a 95 percent confidence interval that sampling would detect CWD at a prevalence rate of 1 percent, the release states. 

Mississippi has also sampled the area inside its borders with 158 results back, and has not detected the disease outside of the one case already reported.

In addition to the LDWF sampling, supplemental deer feeding in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes has been suspended as part of the response plan.

CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. It is infectious and always fatal. It is part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is similar to BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease) of cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue that leads to salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and the eventual death of the animal. 

Deer infected with CWD can spread the disease even before symptoms develop, and it can take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic. When symptoms do appear, they can include emaciation, lethargy, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. Other signs include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, teeth grinding and drooping ears.

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