‘Zombie deer disease’ detected for first time in South Texas county

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, was found in a dead deer in Frio County and a live deer in Hamilton County

File image of a deer. (Image by edbo23 from Pixabay)

SAN ANTONIO – A fatal neurological disease known as “zombie deer disease” has been detected in one South Texas county for the first time, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, was found in a dead deer at a breeding facility in Frio County, southwest of Bexar County, TPWD said in a release on Tuesday. The disease was also found in a live deer at a breeding facility in Hamilton County, west of Waco.

TPWD said this is the first time CWD was discovered in those counties.

“Officials took immediate action to secure all deer at the facilities. TPWD and TAHC (National Veterinary Services Laboratory) plan to continue working together to conduct additional investigations into the extent of the disease within the facilities,” the release states.

The disease is fatal for certain cervids, like deer, elk, moose and others in the deer family.

Its incubation period can last for years, meaning animals who have the disease may go a while without showing symptoms.

As the disease progresses, it causes weight loss, stumbling, tremors, excessive thirst, salivation or urination, loss of appetite, teeth grinding, abnormal head posture and/or drooping ears, the release adds. It never goes dormant and can remain on land for several years.

TPWD says there are no known cases of a human becoming infected with the disease, but hunters should test their harvested species for the disease before consuming them.

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