State Wildlife and Fisheries taking precautions to prevent fatal deer disease

State Wildlife and Fisheries taking precautions to prevent fatal deer disease

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A deadly disease found in deer is spreading across the country. While state Wildlife and Fisheries said it hasn't reached Louisiana yet, they are taking preventative measures.

Tony Washington said he and his dad are avid deer hunters, going out every other weekend.

He recently learned of Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurological disease that kills deer, elk and moose.

"I first heard about the disease maybe two weeks ago. Me and my dad were at home talking about it. During bow seasons, he was saying how he didn't see as many deer as he had been seeing before," Washington said.

However, Dr. Jim LaCour with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said there have been no positive cases tested in the state.

"It is present in a number of other states in the United States, and for that reason we do have some carcass import regulations in place to prevent hunters from accidentally bringing the prion in," Lacour said.

LaCour said the disease attacks the animals' brains, causing them to slowly deteriorate until they die.

"It does make you a little nervous. Some of the guys say it doesn't make them nervous at all, they're still going to do what they need to do and have a good time and eat the deer meat," said Washington.

LaCour said at this point, the disease is not known to be contagious to humans, but he is still cautions against eating infected meat.

"Mad Cow Disease was at first thought not to be contagious to humans, but then years down the road people actually developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease which is a neurological disease related to Mad Cow Disease," LaCour said.

In the meantime, the department is taking preventative measures like regulating deer coming from out of state, and keeping an eye out for those prone to infection.

"We do test deer every year through Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. We'll be testing close to 500 deer this year in the state," LaCour said.

He adds that the closest case of the disease found has been in east Texas.

"I guess when I hear there's more cases in the Louisiana area, in south Mississippi, then maybe it'll alarm me a little bit more," Washington said.

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