Mississippi News

More Chronic Wasting Disease cases found in DeSoto County, state

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in DeSoto County as the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced the fatal disease for deer was found in six additional state counties.

DeSoto County joined Lafayette and Harrison for discovering CWD for the first time in January 2024. Tunica County discovered its first CWD case in March of 2023. This week, a case of CWD was found for the first time in Claiborne County.

CWD is a prion disease that causes proteins to eat holes in the brains of deer and other cervids. It’s always fatal and is transmissible.

The first known case of CWD in Mississippi was discovered in February 2018 in Issaquena County when a four-year-old white-tailed deer buck tested positive.

Reports have been of 315 CWD-positive samples recorded in 16 Mississippi counties with Marshall and Benton counties reporting the most number of tests since first discovered in 2018.

According to Mississippi State University, the most consistent and obvious symptom is weight loss. The deer looks like it is literally wasting away. CWD-affected deer will continue to eat, but the amount they consume decreases. Other signs are excessive drinking and urination, which occur in late stages of the disease.

Behavior changes are also noticeable. An infected animal will drool, lower its head, walk in repetitive patterns, have a blank facial expression, and even grind its teeth.

So far, it has not been proven that CWD poses a risk to people. There has never been a reported case of a human being contracting the disease from a deer or from infected deer meat. However, public-health professionals recommend that people avoid any exposure to CWD.

In general, it is safe to eat venison. However, people should not eat meat from deer known or suspected to be infected with CWD.