Fatal disease for deer and elk detected in neighboring state

Chronic wasting disease, a deadly disease that affects deer, elk and other hoofed animals, has been detected in white-tailed deer in Virginia.

The discovery has ramped up concerns about the disease migrating into North Carolina. Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder that affects the brain of deer and elk. It causes the animals to become lethargic, lose weight and eventually die. Chronic wasting disease is now found in 15 states.

It originated on deer farms and is mostly found in Western states. It was detected as close as West Virginia in late 2005 and apparently took four years to migrate into Virginia.

The N.C. Wildlife Commission banned transport of deer, elk and other hoofed animals across state lines in 2002 to reduce chances of the disease spreading into North Carolina. There is no way to test an animal for chronic wasting disease without killing them and getting a tissue sample from the brain stem. It is possible for deer and elk to carry chronic wasting disease without showing signs.

Other than West Virginia and Virginia, the next closest states to have chronic wasting disease are Oklahoma to the west and New York to the north.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission tested about 1,400 free-ranging white-tailed deer for the disease in 2009 and all came up clean.

Taxidermists in the state cannot accept heads for mounts from states where chronic wasting has been detected. Restrictions on transporting deer parts across state lines ban hunters from bringing back any portion of the deer’s head or spinal cord.

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