MACON, Georgia – The deer season in the state of fishing is in a few months, but wildlife experts have said they fear a disease that would approach Georgia.
The US Geological Survey reported that in January 2019, 251 counties in 24 states had reported cases of chronic debilitating disease (chronic wasting) in wild deer. Wildlife experts have compared this disease to mad cow disease, but it is known that it affects deer and elk.
Although it is not in Georgia, it has come closer. Scientists believe that CWD is transmitted between animals simply through contact with contaminated body fluids or indirectly through exposure to the disease in the environment.
The MDC affects many different species, but the one that is of the greatest concern to Georgia's natural resource experts is the deer on the loose.
"It's a slow and uncomfortable death.The disease takes about 18 months to two years to incubate," said Theron Menken, of the DNR's Wildlife Division.
Menken compared MDC to a type of cancer.
"You know, you're going to start seeing weight loss, apathy, chatter, a lack of coordination, things like that, and it's affecting the nervous system," Menken said.
Menken said that once the deer was infected, behavioral changes were the only way to differentiate it from a healthy deer.
"When the prions of the disease are present, the body no longer has the proper enzymes to dissociate them and you end up with vacuolas or holes in the brain matter." The brain then literally turns to Swiss cheese. "Menken said.
He said that his greatest concern for Georgia was for hunters who go to another state without taking precautions.
"People who go abroad to hunt because these parts of the animal, if you live in Colorado or any of the states affected by the disease, we do not allow you to bring back parts of these animals. bring back only boneless meat, hide, "said Menken," This is the case when hunters visit infested areas and harvest a deer that may look perfectly healthy, and then carry an entire carcass here. know without this test, there is really no way to know if this deer is infected or not. "
Menken says that there is only one way to find out if a deer is free of CWD.
"A stag with CWD, you know that it can travel on an infecting landscape of other deer.And you know that it looks just as healthy as the next, and it's one of those things that you really can not tell until you test the animal, "he said.
Since the treatment of CWD has not been found, biologists will continue their research until they get answers, Menken said. For the moment, no research has shown that CWD affects domestic animals.