WILKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected in Wilkes County, according to a North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission press release.

CWD has been found in Cumberland Couty as well, according to officials. Plans are being put in place to reduce the movement and infection risk of the disease.

CWD is sometimes referred to as “zombie deer disease” and its symptoms include drooling, stumbling, lack of coordination, lack of fear of people, aggression and listlessness.

CWD is caused by abnormal prion proteins that slowly spread through a deer’s nervous system, eventually causing spongy holes in the brain that lead to death. It is highly transmissible and spreads through an infected deer’s saliva, urine and feces. It can also spread by moving deer carcasses and carcass parts.

Hunters are warned to safely dispose of deer carcasses to avoid inadvertently moving CWD to another location in the state. They’re asked to bury the remains where the animal was harvested, double bag remains for disposal at the closest landfill or leave the remains on the ground where the animal was harvested.

CWD is always fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected deer often appear healthy and CWD can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms also occur with other diseases and malnutrition.

Several Triad counties including Alleghany, Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin County have been added as Primary Surveillance Areas where the movement of the disease will be monitored. Davie and Forsyth County remain designated as Secondary Surveillance Areas.

In those counties, rules will prohibit fawn rehabilitation, govern the transportation of deer carcasses and carcass parts, prohibit the placement of minerals and salt licks to congregate wildlife at any time and prohibit the placement of bait, food, or food products to congregate wildlife outside of the hunting season. 

A virtual public hearing to receive comments on the proposed temporary rules will be held on April 18, at 2:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required for Zoom. Individuals may also join the meeting toll-free at (833) 568-8864 using Webinar ID 160 995 2306. 

Public comments on the proposed rules will be accepted through April 28 and may be submitted during the public comment portion of the public hearing, via the agency’s online Comment Portal, by emailing regulations@ncwildlife.org. You may also mail your comments to Rulemaking Coordinator, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1700.  

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions about CWD, visit the NC Wildlife website.

View the full CWD Response Plan here.