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Oklahoma's first documented case of deer with Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in Panhandle

White-tailed deer in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma.
Larry E Smith / Flickr
White-tailed deer in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma.

A deadly disease found in wild deer has been discovered for the first time in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma wildlife officials have had their eyes peeled for Chronic Wasting Disease for decades. The state has been sampling tissue of dead deer for it since 1999.

The always-fatal neurological disease affects the brains of deer, elk and moose and can be serious for wildlife populations.

“While this is unfortunate news, it is not unexpected since CWD has already been detected in every state that borders Oklahoma. We will be working through our response plan to ensure we can monitor potential spread and keep our state’s deer herd healthy,” said Jerry Shaw, Wildlife Programs Supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, in a written statement.

Chronic Wasting Disease has been present across the country and found in wild deer in every state that borders Oklahoma. But it was only recently discovered in the Oklahoma panhandle near the small town of Optima.

It was first noticed by a Texas County landowner who reported the deer to the state after seeing it behave “abnormally,” according to the wildlife department.

There has never been a documented case of wild deer spreading the disease to humans or livestock. But the CDC advises precautions and people should avoid eating meat from a diseased animal.

For more information about the disease and on the proper disposal of infected animals, visit the wildlife department’s website.

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Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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