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The Missouri Department of Conservation reported an additional case of chronic wasting disease in southwest Missouri during the 2020-21 hunting season out of more than 15,300 deer samples examined. This case was in Stone County.

He confirmed a total of 44 new cases statewide and said the latest findings bring the total number of MDC cases in Missouri to 206, out of more than 152,300 samples collected since the first case of MDC took off. was identified in the state free herd in 2012..

Due to an outbreak of CWD in northwest Arkansas, the state has been monitoring deer in southwest Missouri.

To date, there have been a total of eight cases in Stone and Taney counties. No cases have been found in other counties in southwestern Missouri, including Jasper, Newton, Barton, Lawrence, Barry and McDonald counties.

“It seems to us that we are on the verge of the spread of this disease,” said Jasmine Batten, MDC’s wildlife health program supervisor. “If nothing else, a lot of it is luck. “

Batten added, “We cannot say with 100% certainty that the disease is not here (in southwestern Missouri). We can have a relatively good level of confidence that if the disease is there, it is at a very low level. “

Of the 44 new cases statewide, two were found in Putnam County and one in Pulaski County, none of which had a previous case.

The sampling survey also found the following results: Adair, two; Franklin, five; Jefferson, five; Linn, six years old; Macon, five; Oregon, three; Polk, one; St Clair, one; and Ste Genevieve, 12. One confirmed case was from a deer in Ste. Genevieve County who was showing signs of CWD infection. The sick deer were seen by several people, and MDC was notified and shot the deer.

Batten also said CWD first appeared in northeast Missouri and, although it has spread geographically, “We are not seeing significant spikes in the percentage of deer testing positive over time. . “

She said management measures and hunting regulations have helped prevent the disease from spreading and limit the spread.

According to the MDC, it takes an average of 18 to 24 months from when a deer becomes infected until it looks visibly sick. Deer can spread CWD before they look or act sick. In Missouri, most deer that test positive for CWD do not have the disease.

Batten said in a statement, “We tested about 16,000 fewer deer last season compared to the 2019-20 testing period. The lower number of deer tested this season is mainly due to MDC’s suspension of our mandatory sampling requirements during opening weekend due to human health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. . “

Arkansas has reported 1,112 cases of CWD since it was first detected in a moose in 2016. Newton County, Arkansas, has been the epicenter of the disease in that state, representing more than half of all cases.

CWD has been reported in 31 Arkansas elk and 1,081 deer.

Among counties in Arkansas bordering southwestern Missouri, MDC has been found seven times in Benton County; Carroll County, 124 times; Boone County, 169 times; and Marion County, eight times.

In January, Arkansas announced that a team of state and federal officials, led by the University of Georgia, would research CWD in the state and capture, stick and monitor deer over a five-year period. . The study will focus on Newton and Searcy counties, where the outbreak originated.

The goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of how CWD infected deer move across the landscape, survive and reproduce, compared to healthy deer, said Jenn Ballard, veterinarian at Arkansas Wildlife Game and Fish Commission.

“We also assess the density of our population,” she added.

The hope is to use the information to develop strategies to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Ballard said a lot remains unknown about CWD in Arkansas, but they know around the epicenter, up to 1 in 5 deer can be infected. But she added that it “varies a lot even over small geographic areas.”

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