The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says two new Tennessee counties have had deer test positive for chronic wasting disease, and a third county has been classified high-risk.
The agency said in a news release Thursday that deer tested positive in Haywood and Chester counties in southwest Tennessee.
The release said Lauderdale County was classified high-risk after a deer tested positive in Tipton County within 10 miles of the Lauderdale County line.
Approximately 400 deer tested positive in southwest Tennessee during the 2019-20 deer season, mostly from Hardeman and Fayette counties. Madison, Shelby and Tipton counties are also positive for the disease.
CWD poses a significant ecological threat nationwide as members of the deer family become infected. The TWRA said the disease is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk, and can be transmitted in a variety of ways such as contaminated feed or water sources.
In the late stages of the disease, infected animals lose weight, drool excessively and have very unusual behavior. However, the disease may take two years for the symptoms to be evident.
While CWD is not known to pose a risk to humans or livestock, it is not recommended that people eat deer that test positive for CWD. However, the TWRA says the disease's arrival in Tennessee would inevitably lead to deadly results with deer populations if it were to spread -- likely bringing significant economic losses and impact hunters across the state.