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2 new cases of chronic wasting disease found in Alabama deer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Two more cases of a fatal disease have been found in deer in northwest Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Friday announced confirmation of two cases of chronic wasting disease in hunter-harvested, white-tailed deer in northern Lauderdale County. That brings Alabama’s total number of confirmed cases to five, reported.

The disease was first detected in Lauderdale County in January 2022. After the first case was confirmed, all of Lauderdale and Colbert counties were designated as a CWD Management Zone.

CWD commonly results in altered behavior due to microscopic changes in the brain in infected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward signs. But in later stages, animals may exhibit listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns and a lack of responsiveness. There are no treatments or vaccines for the disease and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no cases in humans.

Samples have been collected from more than 1,700 white-tailed deer harvested statewide, with 420 of those collected within the CMZ this hunting season, the department said. One of the positive samples was submitted during a mandatory sampling weekend on Dec. 2 and 3. The other positive was voluntarily submitted at a drop-off location by a hunter as part of the department’s monitoring program.

The next mandatory sampling weekend is Jan. 6 and 7.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Commissioner Chris Blankenship thanked hunters for providing a “robust” number of samples.

“Hunters are our most important partners in the management of CWD as we move forward with future deer seasons,” he said.

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