Louisiana, Mississippi detect additional CWD positives

Published 12:45 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

JACKSON — Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks reported more Chronic Wasting Disease positive detections this week. In one week, 12 new positives have been detected as the lab works through samples during the holiday season.

Hunters have submitted 5,015 samples for MDWFP’s Chronic Wasting Disease testing in FY2024. Across the Mississippi River, Louisiana is up to five CWD detections in Tensas Parish this deer season with 17 positives since first detection in 2022. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Program Manager Johnathan Bordelon said all of these positives were detected in Tensas Parish with no new locations.

Southwest Mississippi hunters should keep an eye on CWD in Louisiana as deer could spread the disease to counties along the river and eventually into other parts of Southwest Mississippi. Arkansas detected CWD late, as evident by prevalence rates as high as 20 percent near initial positives, and is seeing the disease spread across the state. 

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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. Bordelon said hunters have been on the lookout for sick deer and reported suspect looking deer but none of those in new areas have tested positive for CWD in Louisiana. 

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. 

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 163 since first detection. Marshall County is not too far behind with 88 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. 

Since first detection in 2018, MDWFP has detected 278 positives. The first positive was detected in Issaquena County where there are now three positives. Warren County has five positive detections, two of them this deer season.