A deadly disease in deer can be transmitted through the environment and not just direct contact, according to a new study from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The study says that malformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer can stick to minerals in soil and remain deadly.
Indirect transmission of the disease has been suspected, but researchers said the study is the first to show that the proteins, called prions, can bind tightly to soil and remain there to spread infection.
State officials say the finding further reinforces the state's strategy of beating the disease by thinning the deer herd.
Department of Natural Resources wildlife management director Tom Hauge says it's important to minimize contamination of the soil.