The emaciated carcass of a deer found near the Mississippi state line has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced this week.

CWD is a contagious, fatal disease similar to mad cow disease but affects deer and moose. Infected animals lose weight and behave strangely: drinking and urinating frequently, grinding their teeth and salivating excessively as CWD erodes their brain tissue and nerve cells. No evidence suggests CWD can transmit to humans, the state noted in a news release.

The four-year-old male specimen found in Mississippi was collected in Issaquena County, which borders northeast Louisiana. It was the first case documented in Mississippi, which now becomes the 25th state where chronic wasting disease has been reported. Authorities there have banned supplemental deer feeding in several counties.

Louisiana officials are coordinating to collect samples and investigate containment measures, Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet said in a statement.

Some infected and contagious animals can take a year or two to begin showing symptoms of the disease, but the state is asking residents to report any apparently sick deer to Wildlife and Fisheries officials. The number for the Baton Rouge office is (225) 765-2346.

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Wasting disease was first discovered in Colorado in the 1980s. It can spread through physical contact between deer, or through contact with infected animals' urine, feces and saliva or via contaminated soil or even by eating plants that have grown in infected areas. The infectious elements can remain for years, and scientists have not developed a practical way to decontaminate affected locations, the statement reads.

 LSU researchers are on the hunt for a cure. Last year, AgCenter scientists announced they had found a method to grow bacteria that can help them develop vaccines for neurological diseases including chronic wasting disease, mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the last of which infects humans.

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