Montcalm County deer likely the 10th to have chronic wasting disease

MONTCALM COUNTY, MICH. - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that a female deer has been turned in and likely to be the 10th free-range deer in the state to test positive for chronic wasting disease.

According to a news release from the DNR, the 3 ½-year-old female deer was harvested by a young hunter in September. The hunter voluntarily took the animal to a DNR deer check station and submitted it for testing.

The DNR is waiting for final confirmation from the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Back in January, two deer from a Mecosta County deer farm tested positive for CWD and nine cases in free-range deer were found in Igham and Clinton counties. The DNR has been testing deer since May 2015 and actively conducting surveillance for CWD.

The DNR says that it's crucial for hunters, especially in the south-central Lower Peninsula, to have their deer checked. If the hunter in Montcalm County had not, chronic wasting disease may have gone undetected in the area. 

►Related: Scientific team will seek solutions for deer disease threat

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. The DNR says it's caused by the transmission of infections, self-multiplying proteins -- called prions -- found in saliva and other bodily fluids of infected animals. 

Many CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, along with progressive weight loss and physical debilitation. However, the DNR says that's not always the case -- the only way to know if the deer has CWD is the get it tested.

There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.

To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any risk to humans, however as a precaution, the U.S> Center for Disease Control ad the World Health Organization recommends infected animals not be eaten by either humans or domestic animals. 

A complete list of check stations, including locations and hours, as well as weekly CWD updates, are available at michigan.gov/cwd

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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