LARAMIE, Wyo. – Four deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease in new areas of southern Wyoming.
The deer were killed in three hunt areas in Carbon County, and were among 3,893 animals tested for the fatal brain malady by the State Veterinary Lab in Laramie.
The new infected areas are indications that “the disease is slowly spreading,” said Michelle Zitek of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The results we’ve been seeing are consistent with the slow spread of the disease we’ve been seeing.”
The deer were found in areas next to those with infected deer in recent years. Another 99 samples also tested positive, but just one other occurred in area new to the disease – the Big Horn Basin in northern Wyoming, said Hank Edwards, a wasting disease database manager.
Most of the new wasting disease cases were found in mule deer. More than 2,000 samples remain to be tested as deer hunting season continues in some parts of the state, Edwards said.
Hunters have been asked to submit samples for testing at check stations, meat processing plants and taxidermist shops around Wyoming. Letters are then to hunters whose animals test positive.
Chronic wasting disease attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to display abnormal behavior and eventually become emaciated and die. There is no evidence that the disease can harm people.
Researchers have yet to discover how it is spread.
The malady has been found in wild deer or elk in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin. It has also been found in captive herds in several other states.