Dr. Berry speaks at Ferriday Rotary about deer diseae

Dr. Rusty Berry, a veterinarian with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, told Ferriday Rotary Club members Thursday that there have been no deer in Louisiana found with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) following a deer testing positive for the disease in IIssaquena County.

U.S. Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto,  introduced a bill Thursday aimed at stopping the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which has devastating effects on deer herds.

Abraham, a former veterinarian, introduced his bill that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to partner with the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science to study and identify the ways CWD is transmitted between wild, captive and farmed cervids.

“This will provide a credible and scientifically-based foundation of understanding of the disease that can help end its spread,” Abraham said. “CWD could have devastating effects on Louisiana deer populations and, possibly, other mammals. The best hope we have for controlling CWD begins with understanding how it spreads. We don’t have that right now. Since so little information exists on this topic, my bill would instruct some of the brightest scientists in the country to study and learn more about CWD so that we can stop it.”  

CWD is an infectious neurodegenerative disease similar to mad cow disease and is always fatal. Mississippi is the 25th state to confirm the disease’s presence. CWD is caused by mutated prions creating holes in brain tissue and spreads through infected deer or material contact. There is no practical method for decontaminating prion-infected areas yet.

The 4 1/2-year-old buck in Mississippi was the first known positive test of the disease in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The buck died about eight miles north of Vicksburg and was reported to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The buck was found about 45 miles south-southeast of the southeastern corner of Arkansas.

According to a February 9 press release, MDWFP implemented its CWD response plan, including surveying a 300-mile radius from where the deer was found. Supplemental deer feeding was immediately banned in Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren and Yazoo counties in western Mississippi.

No other deer with the disease were found.

Issaquena County is across the Mississippi River from East Carroll Parish in Louisiana. Issaquena County, East Carroll Parish and Arkansas’s Chicot County meet in the southeastern corner of Arkansas and the northeastern corner of Louisiana. The northern boundary of Issaquena County is almost directly across the Mississippi River from the Arkansas-Louisiana state line.

Berry, who graduated from LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, has worked with the LDWF the past six years. He said the LDWF implemented its own plan, including calling for an Emergency Declaration prohibiting supplementation feeding in Tensas, Madison and East Carrroll parishes.

That has since been rescinded.

“Landowners were contacted and property access and disposal agreement signatures were presented,” Berry said. “Collection equipment, sampling instruments and material were used.”

Berry said those deer that were killed were buried six feet where they were found.

“We didn’t want the chance of any of the samples spilling out on any other land,” he said.

Berry said 67 deer were collected from Tensas Parish, 87 from East Carroll and 146 from Madison.

The disease was not detected in any of the parishes.

Berry said there is no plan to continue testing, although the LDWF is still checking out deer from hunts and from those killed by vehicles.

“We contacted law enforcement and asked them to get those to us,” Berry said

“We are targeting an additional hunter-harvested samples from the three parish surveillance area, and collect samples during managed deer hunts on Bayou Macon, Big Lake and Buckhorn Wildlife Management Area and Tensas National Wildlife Refuge,” he said. “We will collect out reach to hunters and landowners.”

Berry said the CDC, USDA and LDWF have found that the disease is not contagious to humans.

Berry said there are still studies being done to see if there is a strain connected with the disease.

Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive salivation, head lowering, droopy ears, weight loss and death.

 Berry said CWD (like other TSEs, such as scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is caused by a prion, an abnormal form of a normal protein, known as prion protein (PrP), that is most commonly found in the central nervous system (CNS), but is capable of spreading to the peripheral nervous system (PNS), thus infecting meat, or muscle, of deer and elk.  

The origin and mode of transmission of the prions causing CWD is unknown, but recent research indicates that prions can be excreted by deer and elk, and are transmitted by eating grass growing in contaminated soil.

The disease was first identified in 1967 in a closed herd of captive mule deer in contiguous portions of northeastern Colorado. In 1980, the disease was determined to be a TSE. It was first identified in wild elk and mules in 1981 in Colorado and Wyoming, and in farmed elk in 1997.

Berry said anyone who feels a deer needs to be tested can bring the head to a regional office, or call that office to have someone pick it up.

(2) comments


Good to see that the Dr. Berry speaks at Ferriday Rotary about deer diseae and a review you shared.

Gary Chandler

Sick deer are just the tip of the iceberg. http://crossbowcommunications.com/neurodegenerative-disease-public-health-disaster/

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