Recently, news has been flashing around everywhere regarding the Zombie deer disease concerning the deer sellers in and around Caldwell, Texas.
What Is Zombie Deer Disease And How It Is Affecting The Deer Population?
Zombie Deer Disease, officially known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), is a transmissible neurological disorder that affects deer, elk, and moose. It belongs to a group of diseases called prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The “zombie” nickname is colloquial and comes from the severe symptoms exhibited by infected animals, including emaciation, stumbling, drooling, and a lack of fear of humans.
CWD is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which can convert normal proteins into the abnormal form, leading to damage to the brain and nervous system. Infected animals can shed prions in saliva, urine, feces, and other bodily fluids, which can contaminate the environment and be ingested by healthy animals.
As of now, 800 samples of deer, elk, and moose have tested positive across The US, Wyoming, parts of Canada, Norway, and South Korea. During such a situation, it is important to be aware of the dos and don’ts. Don’t worry, if you have placed an order for whitetail for sale in Texas. In this guide, we will provide essential tips and precautions to help you transport your deer safely and mitigate the risk of spreading CWD.
Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
We did see what is CWD and how it concerning for the ranch owners and deer breeders. Now it is time to know its symptoms, and how it spreads among deer.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including deer, elk, and moose. The symptoms of CWD can vary, but they generally include:
- Weight Loss: Infected animals often experience significant weight loss over time
- Behavioral Changes: CWD can cause changes in behavior, such as increased aggression, lethargy, repetitive movements, and a lack of fear of humans
- Lack of Coordination: Infected animals may display uncoordinated movements, stumbling, and difficulty walking
- Excessive Salivation: Animals with CWD may exhibit excessive drooling or salivation
- Difficulty Swallowing: As the disease progresses, affected animals may have difficulty swallowing
It’s important to note that these symptoms may not be immediately apparent, and the disease can have a long incubation period, lasting several months to years.
How Did It Spread Amongst The Deer Population?
- Direct Contact: Animals can contract CWD by coming into direct contact with saliva, urine, feces, blood, or other tissues from an infected individual
- Environmental Contamination: Prions shed by infected animals can persist in the environment for an extended period. Healthy animals may become infected by consuming contaminated food, water, or surfaces
- Mother-to-Offspring Transmission: CWD can be transmitted from an infected mother to her offspring
- Human-Mediated Spread: Human activities, such as the movement of infected animals, transportation of contaminated materials, and the concentration of animals in certain areas, can contribute to the spread of CWD
Prioritize Safety Measures While Handling Animals
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
When handling deer carcasses or live animals, it is imperative to use PPE. This includes wearing disposable gloves and protective clothing, such as coveralls, to prevent direct contact with bodily fluids and tissues that may contain CWD prions.
Emphasize the importance of thorough handwashing with soap and water after handling deer. CWD prions can potentially be present in bodily fluids, and proper hygiene is a key component in reducing the risk of contamination and transmission.
Tools and Equipment
Regularly clean and disinfect all tools and equipment used during transportation. Cross-contamination can occur through shared tools, so maintaining a strict cleaning regimen is essential to prevent the inadvertent spread of CWD.
Secure Transport Containers
Highlight the significance of using appropriate transport containers specifically designed for deer. These containers should be secure and resistant to leakage to prevent the escape of CWD prions and minimize the risk of contamination during transportation.
Minimize Transportation Distances
Suggest minimizing transportation distances whenever possible to reduce the risk of spreading CWD. Encourage hunters to process deer close to the harvest site. Additionally, consider hiring a local processor, if available, to reduce travel time and the potential for spreading the disease over longer distances.
Proper Disposal of Carcass Waste
Responsible carcass disposal is crucial in mitigating the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among cervids. The improper handling of infected carcasses can contribute to environmental contamination and increase the risk of transmission. To address this, local wildlife agencies provide specific guidelines to ensure the proper disposal of carcass waste.
Properly containing and sealing carcass waste is essential. Local wildlife agencies often recommend double bagging the remains to minimize the risk of prion transmission. This involves placing the carcass in one plastic bag and then securing it within a second bag, creating an additional barrier against potential contamination.
Utilizing Designated Locations
Many areas affected by CWD have designated locations for the disposal of carcass waste. These sites are strategically chosen to minimize the risk of environmental contamination and curb the spread of the disease. Adhering to these designated locations helps concentrate and manage potential sources of infection in a controlled manner.
Stay Up to Date With the Information
In the dynamic landscape of CWD management, staying informed is paramount. Regularly checking with local wildlife agencies ensures that individuals are aware of the latest updates, guidelines, and specific regulations related to the disease. Keeping abreast of developments in CWD management aids in making informed decisions, particularly when it comes to transporting deer in areas impacted by the disease.
Importance of Information
CWD management strategies are subject to change based on ongoing research and evolving understanding of the disease. Individuals involved in activities such as hunting or transporting deer should recognize the importance of accurate and up-to-date information. This knowledge empowers them to contribute actively to containment efforts and minimize the risk of further spread.
Local Wildlife Agencies
Local wildlife agencies are valuable sources of information on CWD. They regularly update guidelines and regulations to reflect the current state of the disease in specific regions. By maintaining open lines of communication with these agencies, individuals can access the latest information and contribute to the collective effort to manage and control CWD.
Conclusion: While concerns about Zombie Deer Disease (CWD) and its potential spread are understandable, following proper precautions when transporting deer can help mitigate the risk. Meanwhile, you can also check the best practices for transporting exotic animals in Texas. Remember to remain vigilant, stay informed, and practice responsible handling and transportation techniques to ensure the safety of both humans and deer populations.