The Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (LADDL) has reported a suspect case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The tentative diagnosis was made on samples submitted by LDWF staff from a hunter-harvested adult buck taken on private land in Tensas Parish. The deer was emaciated when harvested, thus a high-value sample for surveillance.
LADDL has submitted the suspect sample to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa for confirmatory testing. If confirmed, this would be the first case of CWD found in Louisiana.
Tensas Parish has been an area of heightened surveillance for CWD by LDWF since a case of CWD was found in Issaquena County, Miss., in 2018. Two additional cases of CWD were diagnosed in Warren County, Miss., during the 2021-2022 hunting season.
CWD is a neurodegenerative disease of white-tailed deer and other members of the family Cervidae. It is caused by a prion, an infectious, misfolded protein particle, and is 100-percent fatal in affected deer after an indeterminate incubation period. There is no treatment or preventative vaccine for CWD.
CWD-infected deer may exhibit signs of weight loss and emaciation, salivation, frequent drinking and urination, incoordination, circling, and lack of fear of people, and always results in death of the animal.
“This is what we have feared,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “We will count on the diligence of our hunters, property owners, deer processors and taxidermists in monitoring and helping to control the spread of CWD.”
Although CWD has not been shown to be contagious to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend against the human consumption of deer known to be infected with CWD. Also, it is recommended that people hunting in areas known to harbor CWD-infected deer have their deer tested for the disease prior to consuming the animals. LDWF will provide testing for hunter-harvested deer free of charge.
Hunters desiring to have their harvested deer tested for CWD 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.