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Deer silhouette. Photo by USFWS.

Chronic wasting disease and North Carolina

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Greetings and welcome to the Southern Appalachian Creature Feature.

After looking at more than 3,800 free-ranging deer in 2013 and 2014, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has not detected the fatal, untreatable wildlife affliction, chronic wasting disease, despite its presence in Virginia and other nearby states.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a transmissible neurological disease of deer, elk, and related mammals, that causes a spongy deterioration of the animal’s brain. Humans are not known to contract the disease and no treatment or cure for it exists. Direct, animal-to-animal contact is a means of transmission, but evidence suggests that contaminated environments and equipment also present risks.

The report was from a sampling of more than 3,800 free-ranging deer and elk beginning in 2013 and continuing through earlier this year. Biologists collected brain stem tissue and retropharyngeal lymph nodes from the animals.

Chronic Wasting Disease has been found from New York to Utah and into western Canada, though the Southeast remains largely free of the disease. Texas has it and West Virginia reported a case in 2005, followed by Virginia in 2010 and Maryland in 2011. Preventive measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission in North Carolina, with stringent regulations governing anyone who holds captive deer and regulations for hunters returning with hide, meat or trophies taken out of state.

For WNCW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this is Gary Peeples.

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