This time series map of chronic wasting disease in America shows how rapidly it is spreading.
From 1962 to 1979, chronic wasting disease knowingly occurred in only two states, Colorado and Wyoming, according to this time series CWD map by Louisiana State University AgCenter.
Not to be confused with epizotic hemorrhagic disease, chronic wasting disease remained in those two states until it spread to the first of two Canadian provinces in 1995.
Then from 1995 to 2018, CWD spread throughout over half of the continental United States. The map shows instances of infected animals on either free-ranging wild deer or captive deer.
With each new hunting season, new cases pop up. If you ask us, deer hunters ought to be concerned about the rapid spread of the disease.
Chronic wasting disease is a problem that's tough to fix. There are some who believe it's an overreaction and wish to see no more money spent on its surveillance or research. No human has ever gotten sick from cases of CWD, they claim, so what's the worry?
The cold hard facts and sightings of infected deer prove the seriousness. Commonly found in elk, mule deer and whitetail deer, the infected cervids don't always exhibit symptoms until two or three years after the initial contraction of the disease. However, they are still capable of spreading the disease, despite whether or not they're showing symptoms.
States with significant deer hunting participation numbers and long histories as big buck hot spots have seen positive tests, with Iowa, Illinois, Texas, and Montana amongst the regions affected. With discoveries in Mississippi and Tennessee, CWD is affecting more states than ever before, with additional places and natural resources being threatened.
In the spring of 2019, a video was posted online claiming that CWD is caused by a new kind of bacterium and that a cure is in sight. However, years of research show that the disease is caused by a folded prion affecting the nervous system. The research was from the LSU AgCenter, the same source this video above came from. Experts on both sides are weighing the merits of the research and remaining skeptically optimistic.
One thing to conclude is that there is still a lot of information about CWD in North America that remains unknown. We do know it is 100 percent fatal, which is in no way good for overall wildlife health. We also know there's no fast, cheap, or easy way to conduct thorough CWD testing, so predicting where these types of prion diseases will be unearthed next is nearly impossible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend not eating or consuming the venison meat of any animal infected with CWD.
If you shoot a deer in a known CWD zone, it's smart to get it tested by your state wildlife agency.