HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Two West Texas deer were put down after testing positive for a brain-eating disease, the first such cases to have been documented in Texas.

The discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal illness that destroys a deer’s brain, on Monday has created a greater sense of urgency to impose stricter statewide regulations that will lessen the chances of the disease spreading elsewhere in the state. The Houston Chronicle reports that deer such as the two that were put down, which were from the Hueco Mountains in El Paso, Texas, and Hudspeth counties, would be restricted to “containment” and “high-risk” zones covering West Texas under proposed regulations.

Despite the positive tests, one Texas official told the Chronicle that the two instances of Chronic Wasting Disease among the 31 tested deer should not create cause for concern. Scientific reports cite Chronic Wasting Disease as comparable to Mad Cow Disease for cows and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease for humans.

“This is definitely not a crisis,” Clayton Wolf, wildlife division director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told the Chronicle.

With its two positive tests, Texas became the 19th state to document positive tests for the disease. The Chronicle reports that Texas has tested more than 33,000 total deer in the last decade, none of which had tested positive until now. The exact effect that the findings could have on the annual $1.5 billion brought in by the state by recreational deer hunting and the additional $650 million annually from the captive-deer industry remains unclear.


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