The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Library in Madison confirmed today that a white-tailed deer hunter-harvested north of Waldron was Chronic Wasting Disease-positive.
In a press release, AGFC state wildlife veterinarian said, “Preliminary tests indicated the positive case last week. We received confirmation of those results today and, as part of our CWD protocol, we are notifying the public through press releases, our website and social media resources with the news about the presence of the disease in a new county.”
Ballard added in the press release that although Scott County is outside Game & Fish's CWD Management Zone, she does not expect changes to the deer-hunting regulations for the rest of the 2018-2019 deer hunting season.
Ballard added, "We will evaluate the need for any expansion of the CWD Management Zone during the regular hunting regulations-setting process once the season is over. Changing the regulations mid-season would not be fair to hunters."
The CWD management zone includes Benton, Boone, Carroll, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy, Sebastian, Van Buren, Washington and Yell counties.
AGFC reports that CWD was first detected in Arkansas on Feb. 23, 2016. To date, 570 deer and elk in Arkansas have tested positive for CWD, of the 18,000 that AGFC has tested since that first detection. About 16,000 of those tested samples came from hunter-harvested deer.
Ballard said this positive case in Scott County demonstrates how CWD can spread slowly under typical circumstances. “We know bucks tend to carry a higher prevalence of the disease than does and we know bucks can disperse long distances, potentially moving the disease across the landscape. That is why we have partnered with taxidermists to help us collect samples as a free service to hunters.”
Animals infected with CWD lose weight, develop an insatiable thirst and lose their appetite. They may also grind their teeth, separate from their herd, carry their head low, walk in repetitive patterns, urinate frequently and salivate.
The AGFC says research indicates CWD is caused by prion, a misfolded protein transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. It can survive years in soil and plants. These prions affect the animal's nervous system, as they cause normal cellular proteins to misfold, accumulating until neural cells cease to function. Infected animals might not show signs of CWD right away, as the disease has an incubation period of at least 16 months.
The AGFC reports that hunters who want to test their deer for CWD for free can take the head of the deer, with about six inches of the neck still attached, to one of the participating taxidermists in its network. Hunters can also drop off the head at one of its CWD-testing Collection stations. Click here for a full list of testing locations and for more information on CWD.