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Elk tests positive for chronic wasting disease, marks first recorded case in state

by Brandon Riddle | February 23, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

An elk found dead near Pruitt on the Buffalo National River in October has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the first recorded case in the state, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

The disease that affects the nervous system is fatal to elk and white-tailed deer, the commission said in a news release.

Officials said Tuesday that samples from as many as 300 elk and white-tailed deer will be tested within a 5-mile radius of where the dead elk was located. The samples are part of a study to determine how prevalent the disease is in the state.

The commission will work with the National Park Service and local landowners to collect samples, the news release states.

“Although CWD is a serious threat to Arkansas’ elk and white-tailed deer, we are not the first to deal with the disease,” AGFC Director Mike Knoedl said. “Our staff is prepared and, with help from the public, will respond with effective measures.”

Chronic wasting disease was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967 and has since been found in 24 U.S. states, according to the commission.

No cases of transmission of the disease from deer or elk to humans have been reported.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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