Chronic wasting disease threatens Meridian Township deer

Over 1,000 deer from Meridian Township have been tested for chronic wasting disease in order to gauge the extent of the problem, with eight deer confirmed positive for the disease in Clinton and Ingham counties. In May of last year, the first free-ranging white-tailed deer in Meridian Township was found to have chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. According to Dr. Jen C. Owen, Associate Professor of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU, chronic wasting is a prion disease that only affects other cervids – mule deer, white tailed deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. Owen explained that prions are misfolded proteins that replicate in the animal by conversion of normal cellular proteins into abnormal proteins, which accumulate in brain tissue and the lymphatic system and resist normal immune responses of the infected animals. Symptoms may not show up for months or years after the animal is infected, and it is always fatal.