State asks hunters to look for signs of wasting disease

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri hunters have been asked to help the Department of Conservation look for signs of chronic wasting disease among the state's deer herds.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, affects a deer's brain, causing the animal to lose muscle control and eventually die. The disease has turned up in neighboring states, but so far has not been found in Missouri.

While hunters who helped with the first year of the study in 2002 ended up with headless deer, that won't be happen this year.

A more advanced procedure has been developed that tests for CWD by analyzing a deer's lymph glands, department biologist Lonnie Hansen said.

While the incision in a deer's neck needed to remove the glands might affect mounting a head, the new test won't involve removing the deer's head to have the brain stem tested, he said.

About the size of beans, the lymph nodes also are affected by the protein causing CWD and show signs of the disease sooner than the brain.

In Southwest Missouri, hunters in Barry, Dallas, Newton and Webster counties will be asked to participate, southwest district spokesman Francis Skalicky said.

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