148 deer in Tennessee test positive for deadly disease


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nearly 150 deer in Tennessee have tested positive for chronic wasting disease so far this season, according to the state Wildlife Resources Agency.

The deer infected with the deadly disease were identified during a test of 8,700 deer, news outlets report, citing an agency statement. Infected deer were found in Tipton, Shelby, Fayette, Hardeman and Madison counties. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved $1 million for an incinerator to dispose of the infected carcasses.

The disease first recorded in the U.S. in the 1960s was found in Tennessee last year. The statement says the agency began testing during the 2018-19 hunting season when 185 deer were found to be infected with the contagious neurological disease, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is believed to be caused by abnormal proteins that damage brain and spinal cord tissues.

Though there have yet to be any recorded cases in humans, the agency recommends people avoid eating meat from infected deer. The disease may spread through contact with contaminated body fluids, tissue or indirect contact, according to the agency. It may incubate for more than a year and infected animals may slowly develop symptoms, which include stumbling, listlessness, drooling and excessive thirst, among other issues.