The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has coordinated with Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge to provide an in-state mechanism for testing harvested deer for the presence of chronic wasting disease.

Hunters seeking to have their harvested deer tested can complete an online form detailing the specific location where they have harvested a deer and then submit tissue from the animal to the nearest Wildlife and Fisheries field office.

While chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Louisiana, it has been found in deer in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

“This test will help to give our deer hunters peace of mind," Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet said. “But it will also be another tool we can use for monitoring CWD, as we work to keep CWD from entering our state. The more testing that is done the better."

The testing service costs $37.50, and users can pay through the online application using any major credit card. Upon completion of the online form, hunters are given a printable voucher to submit along with their tissue sample. Each submission is assigned an ID number, which is used to view test results from hunters’ specific samples on Wildlife and Fisheries' website, where all results will be publicly available. Wildlife and Fisheries is aiming for a complete turnaround of two weeks, allowing hunters to quickly get their results in time to enjoy their venison.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including Louisiana’s native white-tailed deer. It is infectious, fatal and untreatable. It’s part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue, which leads to excessive salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of the animal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease has infected humans. However, the federal agency recommends caution in handling venison in infected regions and that deer be tested before consuming. Deer testing positive for the disease should not be consumed by people.

Detailed instructions and information can be found at wlf.la.gov/hunting/CWD.