It is the first documented case of Chronic Wasting Disease in the southern United States. And Wildlife experts are on high alert. Biologists and other game experts will be taking public comment to find ways to keep this highly contagious disease from spreading.

Officials confirmed a case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Issaquena County just a few weeks ago. The disease solely affects members of the cervidae family such as deer, elk and moose. The specimen, in this case, came from a white-tail deer.

CWD is considered catastrophic and can wipe out whole swaths of an area’s deer population.

Biologists say a protein, known as a prion, works its way into the brain and other parts of the deer and literally eats its way through the infected animal. Biologists aren’t quite sure how the disease is spread, there is no cure and there is no way of knowing if the prion can jump from animals to humans.

According to their release,  the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will host a public meeting to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson on Thursday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. In addition to providing more information about the disease, MDWFP personnel will discuss Mississippi’s CWD Response Plan. Biologists and Law Enforcement officials will be available to answer questions.  

Immediately after confirming the case, MDWFP enacted a response plan. The plan establishes management zones of 5-, 10-, and 25-miles around the point where the positive animal was discovered.

Officials are asking the public to discontinue any supplemental feeding of wildlife in the buffer zone. Crowding caused by feeding may contribute to spread of the disease. The affected counties includes; Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren and Yazoo.

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, including a link to the CWD Response Plan, visit www.mdwfp.com/cwd. To report a sick animal, call 800-BE-SMART (800-237-6278) or email biologist@mdwfp.state.ms.us.