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Monitoring for Deer Disease Continues in Northeat Ohio

Whitetail deer
Whitetail deer

There is a kind of “mad cow” disease that affects deer, and it’s in northeast Ohio.  It turned up two years ago in Holmes County. Though it involved only a handful of captive deer, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is continuing a long-term monitoring and prevention protocol. 

Chronic Wasting Disease, as it is called, destroys deer’s brains by introducing prions — infective proteins that make normal proteins behave abnormally.

It has not been transmitted to people. But it spreads among animals by contact. Scott Peters, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resource Wildlife Division, says that’s why the agency has ordered restrictions on the use of hunting baits and salt licks where sick deer have been--so healthy ones aren’t drawn there.

“Even though the captive deer that had this disease were inside the fence, these prions actually get into the soil through feces, saliva, things like that. So there’s always the possibility that wild deer can come up and interact with these deer by the fence.  Or even the soil.”

The two locations where the disease was found are a hunting preserve and a commercial deer farm. The herds in each were removed and both are under a five-year quarantine imposed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

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