MADISON, Wis. — A study has shed light on how chronic wasting disease is spreading through Wisconsin.

The student from the U.S. Geological Survey studied chronic wasting disease data from 2002 to 2014 and developed a more accurate system to predict how the fatal brain disease found in deer could advance in an area of southwestern Wisconsin near the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2pMjBZv ) reported.

Katherine Richgels, applied wildlife health research branch chief for the National Wildlife Health Center, said researchers found several factors linked to the disease's spread.

"CWD seems to be moving in association with some of our landscape features," Richgels said. "It's more likely to move through denser forests, and it seems to be blocked to some degree by the river corridor, moving fast along the one side but not crossing it."

The study found the disease spreads twice as fast in those areas compared to other types, such as agricultural land.

The disease has been found in more than 40 of Wisconsin's 72 counties since the first confirmed cases in 2002. Richgels said it remains a threat throughout Wisconsin and that hunters should consider having their deer tested for the disease.

The study's researchers say they're hopeful the forecasting model they developed also could be useful in tracking the spread of diseases in other wildlife, such as white nose syndrome in bats.