Louisiana awaits confirmation of first Chronic Wasting Disease case in Tensas Parish

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

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BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Deer Program Manager Jonathan Bordelon said they are waiting for the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa to confirm the suspect positive case detected in Eastern Tensas Parish more than 25 miles away from Concordia Parish. The buck was harvested close to the Mississippi River and in proximity to Issaquena County, where Mississippi’s first case of CWD was in 2018.

If confirmed, it would be the first positive case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Louisiana. Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi have had cases of CWD close to the state over the past few years. He said deer naturally disperse, so there was a high potential for eventual detection of CWD in Louisiana. 

They have gathered 500 hunters harvested samples in Tensas Parish since 2018. Hunters ensured there were not any holes in surveillance for CWD in Tensas Parish, or Louisiana.

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“We have been looking in the areas close in proximity to other state’s positives,” Bordelon said. “In this particular incident, it was a suspect deer. The deer displayed abnormal characteristics. A hunter reached out and was concerned about its behavior. He harvested it and offered it up for sampling. In recent years, we have had a lot of knowledge of the disease. The growing concern and awareness have allowed us to detect more suspect deer.” 

In the past, other suspected deer had come back negative for CWD. He said the suspect deer might have had a brain abscess or another disease, but not CWD. 

Currently, they are working on plans for CWD regulations. Their recommendations would be to ban baiting and feeding in a CWD management zone. He said the CWD disease plan would establish a management zone and rules to mitigate spread. 

Hunters’ responses to LDWF’s requests for CWD samples have been strong this season. Arkansas had a positive case of CWD detected 7 miles north of the Louisiana border. Union and Morehouse Parish hunters responded by submitting 320 combined CWD samples. 

“The cooperation of hunters and landowners who report sick deer is a great aid,” Bordelon said. “Those who are cooperating are an asset to Louisiana.”

Hunters desiring to have their harvested deer tested for CWD or notice any abnormal behavior in deer can contact local LDWF Field Offices to have their deer tested.  Testing is performed on the brainstem and lymph nodes of the head.  The head and 5-inches or more of the neck can be removed and refrigerated for submission to LDWF.  The skull plate and antlers can be removed prior to testing if desired.  The LDWF regional office contact information and locations are as follows:

  • Hammond Office 985-543-4777 42371 Phyllis Ann Drive Hammond;
  • Lafayette Office 337-262-2080 200 Dulles Drive Lafayette;
  • Lake Charles Office 337-491-2575 1213 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles;
  • Minden Office 318-371-3050 9961 Hwy 80, Minden;
  • Monroe Office 318-343-4044 368 Century Link Dr, Monroe;
  • Pineville Office 318-487-5885 765 Maryhill Rd., Pineville.

Detailed instructions and more information can be found at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd-testing.

What is CWD?

Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease in White-Tailed Deer, Elk, and Mule Deer. CWD is caused by a contagious prion. For some deer, it could take a year or more to develop symptoms. Those symptoms are drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness, and other neurologic symptoms. Infected animals shed prions through saliva, feces, blood, and urine.

Other deer can become infected through direct contact with an infected animal and indirect contact from an infected environment. Once the disease occurs in an area, evidence demonstrates eradication is unlikely.

At this time there is no evidence that suggests CWD poses any risk to humans. However, hunters are advised to not consume any meat from a CWD positive deer.