The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced yesterday that chronic wasting disease has been found in four white-tailed deer in  northwest Arkansas. The confirmed cases were identified across three counties: Benton, Washington and Sebastian:

The deer in Benton County were a 2½-year-old doe near Decatur and a 5½-year-old doe near Springtown. The Sebastian County deer was an adult buck near Lavaca, and the one from Washington County was a 1½-year-old buck near Prairie Grove. All four were harvested by hunters during the 2017-18 deer season, and confirmed as CWD-positive by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.

More samples remain to be tested, and it’s possible that more deer and elk could test positive for the deadly disease. CWD — which impacts the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose — was first detected in Arkansas in February of 2016. It has been detected in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. AGFC has placed various restrictions on importations, hunting, breeding, and dealing to try to prevent the disease from entering or spreading in the state.

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AGFC Director Pat Fitts said in a statement:

Although CWD is a serious threat to Arkansas’s elk and white-tailed deer, we are not the first to deal with the disease. Our staff is prepared and, with help from the public, will respond with effective measures. We have learned from the experiences of 23 other states.

There have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against eating meat from infected animals.

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