Chronic wasting disease was not detected in almost 6,000 test samples taken from hunter-killed deer in Missouri last fall, officials announced today.

The brain-wasting disease is similar to mad cow disease and has posed major problems for several states where it has been found in deer and elk, both free roaming and captive.

While no human or livestock threats have been proven, officials are cautious because much is unknown about the chronic wasting and because of its similarity to mad cow disease, which has posed problems in Europe.

Missouri Department of Conservation employees collected brain stem tissue samples from deer killed by hunters in 30 counties last year, said Jeff Beringer, a wildlife biologist in charge of the program.

“We got our results today and they’re all negative,” Beringer said today. “Obviously, that’s good news.”

In other states where the disease has appeared, such as Wisconsin, wildlife agencies have conducted population eradication efforts in hotspots where the disease was found. That’s proven difficult and controversial with the public, officials say.

Beringer said if Missouri had found the disease, sharpshooters would have taken more deer from the area where it was found. An assessment would have been made about how prevalent it was before final plans for controlling it would have been made.

The state will test about the same number of deer from 30 different counties during this fall’s hunting season, he said.

Kansas officials last week announced that all deer tested in that state had also proven negative.

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