LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confirmed a case of chronic wasting disease in one elk.
An elk harvested near Pruitt on the Buffalo National River during the October 2015 hunting season tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to elk and white-tailed deer, according to the AGFC. This is the first time chronic wasting disease has been found in Arkansas.
To determine how prevalent the disease may be, the AGFC will test samples from up to 300 elks and white-tailed deer within a five-mile radius of where the disease elk was harvested. The samples will help AGFC biologists determine their strategy to contain it.
The AGFC is also establishing a multi-county chronic wasting disease management zone and will hold public meetings in the area to discuss plans and answer questions.
Right now, biologists don’t know how the disease reached northern Arkansas.
There are no confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock.
Chronic wasting disease affects the animal’s nervous system. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their heads low, salivate and grind their teeth.
The disease only affects cervids and biologists believe it is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. The abnormal cellular proteins that carry chronic wasting disease have an incubation period of at least 16 months and can survive for years in organic matter such as soil and plants.