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Hunters should be aware of deer diseases

From Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

-- Nebraska hunters should be aware of the possibility of encountering chronic wasting disease (CWD), brain worm and deer lice when afield this fall.

None of these diseases is known to be harmful to humans, and hunters discovering deer with symptoms for brain worm or deer lice are asked to report them to their local district Game and Parks office.

CWD, which was discovered in western Nebraska in 2000, is always fatal to deer when contracted. Deer with CWD can range in appearance from healthy looking to thin and rough looking. CWD occurs primarily in the Panhandle, but it now extends across the western half of the state.

Biologists last year sampled 3,645 deer from check stations during the November firearm season, with 51 new CWD positives confirmed. This brings the total number of deer sampled since testing began to 45,887 with 257 confirmed positive for CWD.

Brain worm is caused by a parasitic worm that lives in the brain of white-tailed deer without harming them. When this worm is eaten by mule deer, it may make them sick and may lead to death. Mule deer with brain worm may be found walking in tight circles, unafraid of humans when approached, throwing their heads or displaying other neurological symptoms.

In areas where mule deer and white-tailed deer populations overlap, eight deer have been confirmed with brain worm in 2011.

Deer lice are exotic chewing lice that have begun to infest mule deer in western Nebraska. Chewing lice infest mule deer, creating an allergic reaction that leads to the deer scratching and rubbing to relieve itching.

Deer with lice may rub hair off, creating a rough look to entire patches of hair missing. Deer eventually may become sick and die from hypothermia because of the loss of their hair coat. Deer sick with lice may appear lethargic, unafraid of humans and in poor condition. Deer lice may be found in large numbers under the legs of infested animals.

There have been six confirmed cases of deer mortality caused by these lice in 2011.

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