Chronic wasting disease has been found for the first time in Valley and Keya Paha counties.

The disease has now been detected in 42 Nebraska counties, including nearly every county west of Kearney.

Testing is rotated throughout the state, said Todd Nordeen, big game disease and research biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, stationed in Alliance. This year, deer and elk taken from north central and northwest management areas were tested. Eleven percent of the 1,208 deer tested were positive for the disease. However, of the 117 elk tested, only one tested positive and eight were unknown.

Nordeen said the disease does not affect antelope, cattle or other animals, and is more prevalent in deer than elk in Nebraska, probably because of the larger populations of deer.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no person is known to have contracted CWD; however, hunters should cautiously handle and process deer and avoid consuming animals that test positive or look sick,” a press release from Game and Parks stated.

CWD attacks the brain of infected animals and can cause them to become thin and weak, produce excessive amounts of saliva, become listless and die.

“Hunters can help prevent the spread of CWD by using proper carcass disposal methods,” according to the press release. “CWD prions, the infectious proteins that transmit the disease, can remain viable for months or even years in the soil. Hunters should field dress animals at the place of kill, avoid spreading spinal cord or brain tissue to meat, and dispose of the head (brain), spinal column and other bones at a licensed landfill.

More information is available at outdoornebraska.gov/cwd.

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