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Deadly deer disease: no import of Christmas reindeer in Alabama

JASPER – Santa's reindeer replacements will not be allowed to come to Alabama this year, as part of the state's precautions against dead killer disease.

Until now, there has been no disease causing chronic dieback in Alabama, and the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants this to continue.

Reindeers usually arrive a few days before a show and may be at the root of the disease, said Tuesday Ed Poolos de Jasper, deputy commissioner of the department, at the Rotary Club of Jasper. He said that reindeer already in Alabama can still be used for such shows, reported the Daily Mountain Eagle.

"So everyone is against us, we are against Santa Claus," he joked.

Chronic debilitating disease, or CDD, is a highly infectious disease caused by malformed protein particles called prions. Animals can transmit them for a year or two before the onset of symptoms, releasing them into saliva, stool, urine, blood and wood velvet. The disease has been found in most deer and related species, including moose, elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer,

It has been found in 26 states, including Mississippi and Tennessee.

"It's right on our doorstep," said Poolos.

Alabama's latest response plan, released on July 12, also requires hunters to boned deer killed in other states, only bringing back the meat, Poolos said.

MDC, a human infection called Creutzfelt-Jacob disease and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, often called mad cow disease, is a deadly disease caused by prions that damage the brain.

If CWD goes to Alabama, the state will do everything possible to prevent it from spreading, said Poolos.

"We worked diligently on a broad intervention plan," he said.

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