Alabama buys machine to help detect Chronic Wasting Disease in deer

Alabama buys machine to help detect Chronic Wasting Disease in deer
The Alabama Department of Agriculture recently purchased a $30,000 machine that is considered far more modern to detect chronic wasting disease in deer. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The new testing machine will be based in Auburn but first it's being 'validated' by federal wildlife officials to make sure the machine works properly. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The new testing machine will be based in Auburn but first it's being 'validated' by federal wildlife officials to make sure the machine works properly. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
There is no known cause of CWD, though it is believed to be caused by a prion or protein that is infectious and has a long incubation period. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
There is no known cause of CWD, though it is believed to be caused by a prion or protein that is infectious and has a long incubation period. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Testing is done by sampling brain tissue and lymph nodes from hunter harvested deer, captive deer facilities and any suspect animal. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Testing is done by sampling brain tissue and lymph nodes from hunter harvested deer, captive deer facilities and any suspect animal. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama is stepping up its game in the watch for chronic wasting disease. You may recall two weeks ago when hunters in Mississippi noticed a sick deer that later died from CWD. CWD is a rogue protein that attacks the brain in deer.

Inside the Alabama Agriculture Department Tuesday, there was no surprise the chronic wasting disease had not spread into Alabama. Much of is because of a move the state implemented years ago.

"Because Alabama was one of the first states back in the late '70s to restrict the importation of live deer into this state," said Tim Gothard, Executive Director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

To help state leaders keep a close eye on it, the department purchased a $30,000 machine, a testing machine that comes in three parts, far more modern and high tech in detecting CWD in deer.

"Unfortunately, there is no live animal tests, so we have to have brain tissue and lymph nodes," said state veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier.

Dr.  Fraizer says while there is no sign the disease is taping off among deer, there is no need for the public to panic. For now, there is no evidence to suggest humans can contract the disease from deer.

"There is certainly no panic, the surveillance casts this net pretty wide in Alabama," said Frazier.

The first line of defense will be the hunters themselves and should there be a reported case in Alabama, a roll out plan to alert the public is ready. The response plan is in its final stages now and will be on the Outdoor Alabama website next week, according to department leaders.

The disease is the deer's version of Alzheimer's with pneumonia being the secondary illness that causes death.

State wildlife officials say they test on average of around 500 deer per year for CWD. That includes harvested deer and those killed on the road.

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