Nicole Blanchard Idaho Statesman
RIGGINS – Two mule deer killed in Idaho County last month have been confirmed to have a deadly, contagious disease called chronic wasting disease that affects deer, elk and moose, according to a news release from the Department of Idaho fishing and hunting. This is the first time chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in Idaho.
Chronic wasting disease, sometimes known as “zombie deer disease”, is an infectious disease that affects the brain and nervous system and is believed to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions. It is in the same family of diseases as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Animals can be infected for over a year before they begin to show signs, including drastic weight loss, increased isolation, lack of consciousness and other behavioral changes.
According to Fish and Game, hunters killed the males that tested positive in the Slate Creek drainage near Lucile, north of Riggins. The deer were harvested from Hunting Unit 14. Officials said the two hunters were notified that their deer had tested positive for chronic wasting disease, and Fish and Game encourages all hunters who harvest deer in unit 14 to have their deer tested.
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Fish and Game spokesman Roger Phillips said he was not aware the deer had visible symptoms of the disease.
“Testing on these two mule deer was part of our regular and ongoing testing for CWD,” Phillips said in an email.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says hunters should not consume meat from infected animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they have not confirmed any cases of chronic wasting disease in humans, but say studies have shown risks in non-human primates who eat meat contaminated with the disease. MDC or come into contact with the brains or bodies of infected animals. fluids.
Idaho officials have been monitoring the disease for years as confirmed cases creep closer to Idaho’s borders. According to the US Geological Survey, chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in more than half of US states and is particularly prevalent in Wyoming, Colorado and Wisconsin. The agency said the disease is linked to population declines of infected species in some states, where up to 40% of deer populations are infected with the chronic wasting disease.
The deadly disease has also been confirmed in captive cervids, posing a potential problem for farms and privately owned animals.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated November 17 to correct Idaho Fish and Game’s recommendation regarding eating meat from infected animals.