CWD Update: Mississippi detects 14 new positives this week

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 29, 2023

JACKSON — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks reported a rash of new Chronic Wasting Disease positive detections this past week. In one week, 14 new positives have been detected. 

It is likely more will come in over the next few weeks as the testing lab works through samples around holidays and increased hunter harvests during peak rut times. 

Chronic Wasting Disease is a 100 percent always fatal disease found in deer and other members of the cervidae family. CWD is caused by an infectious prion, misfolded protein, which is neurodegenerative. Deer often do not show any physical symptoms of CWD until the late stages of the disease which could be 18 months after initial infection. 

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Positive deer shed CWD prions into the environment through bodily fluids where they persist in soil and vegetation. Healthy deer can become infected through this indirect contact with prions in the environment or with direct contact with infected deer. 

Since first detection in 2018, MDWFP has detected 266 positives. The first positive was detected in Issaquena County where there are now three positives. Warren County had a positive detection early in the year and added this fifth detection last week. 

Hunters in Warren County have submitted 1,862 samples since 2018 and have thus found additional positives in proximity to the first detection in Issaquena County. More samples are needed across the state especially in counties where there has been less than 300 samples per year. The majority of counties in Southwest Mississippi fall into this category. 

Hunter submitted sampling is crucial in detecting the disease early so the state agency can enact the CWD management plan to mitigate the spread of the disease. Benton County, which has historically been one of the more sampled counties, leads the state in positives with 157 since first detection. Marshall County is not too far behind with 83 positives. 

CWD samples can be dropped off at self serve coolers around the state or at participating taxidermists. The closest drop-off cooler to Lincoln County is in Hazlehurst at the Mississippi State Extension Service Office there. Lincoln County’s participating taxidermists are Brent Opdyke, Allen Morgan and George Wilson and their information can be found on the MDWFP CWD page.