BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Intensified testing in two Louisiana parishes next to Arkansas has not found any deer with a lethal, slow and highly infectious brain disease, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says.
A news release said 104 deer shot in Union Parish and 54 shot in Morehouse Parish have been tested since early December, when Arkansas authorities found chronic wasting disease in a deer taken near the state line.
The LSU Diagnostic Laboratory has been sent 93 more heads of deer killed in Union Parish and 16 more from Morehouse Parish. The department wants to check 300 deer, and is 30 short of that goal.
Arkansas officials said Dec. 2 that the diseased deer was taken in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Union County, less than 8 miles (13 kilometers) north of the Louisiana state line.
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is spread by malformed proteins called prions, like those that cause mad cow disease and the related human infection called Creutzfelt-Jacob disease.
CWD can be present in a deer’s saliva, feces, urine, blood, and antler velvet for years before symptoms show. It’s been found in most kinds of deer and related species, including moose and elk, and in at least 26 states including Mississippi and Texas.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no human cases have been reported, but the agency recommends against eating infected meat.
Louisiana has offered lottery entries for hunters and taxidermists who provide heads for testing. The prizes are $1,000 for hunters and $500 for taxidermists.
Instructions for submitting samples are at Louisiana’s CWD testing website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd-testing.