Chronic Wasting Disease Cases Keep Rising In Newton Co. Deer Population

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NEWTON COUNTY (KFSM) — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission received 27 more positive cases of chronic wasting disease from a recent batch of samples taken in northern Newton County bringing the total number of CWD-positive deer and elk to 50.

Although biologists are no longer sampling animals in the area, they are waiting on the last batch of 110 samples to arrive next week, which should give them a good indication of the prevalence of CWD.

So far, three of the elk samples have been found to be positive for CWD, the rest have been deer. Some of the CWD-positive samples came from dead or sick deer found outside the original sampling zone, which has prompted a second phase of sampling on a much larger scale.

According to the AGFC, the presence of CWD can only be determined within a day or two of the animal’s death, so the agency has been taking samples from sick and dead deer reported throughout the state.

The second phase of testing will continue until at least May 20. The AGFC is encouraging anyone who sees a sick or dead deer or elk to contact them at 800-482-9262.

CWD is a neurological disease that’s part of a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Once in a host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into abnormal shapes that accumulate until the cell ceases to function. As the brains of infected animals degenerate, they lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate and grind their teeth.

The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings at Carroll Electric Cooperative, 511 E. Court St. in Jasper. The next meeting will be at 11 a.m., April 7.

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