Southcentral Pennsylvania Deer Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

deer

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced today that a captive deer has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania. This is the first new case in a captive deer farm since 2014.

The four-year-old white-tailed deer was harvested from a hunting preserve in Franklin County in November 2016. Samples from this deer tested positive for the disease at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg. The test results were confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa on January 5, 2017. This deer was raised on a deer farm in Fulton County until it was sold to the Franklin County facility in August 2016. Both farms are under quarantine. The investigation continues and additional herds may be quarantined.

“We are working to minimize the risk to Pennsylvania’s deer herd by quarantining both farms and tracing any contacts with other deer in our efforts to find the source of CWD, if possible,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding. “We want to stress that CWD is no danger to public health and has never been associated as a human health concern.”

There is no strong evidence that humans or livestock can contract Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chronic Wasting Disease attacks the brain of infected deer, elk and moose, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. Animals can get the disease through direct contact with saliva, feces and urine from an infected animal.

Symptoms include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk also may allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators. The disease is fatal and there is no known treatment or vaccine.

The first cases of CWD in Pennsylvania were detected when two Adams County deer tested positive for CWD in 2012. Surveillance for the disease has been ongoing in Pennsylvania since 1998.

The Department of Agriculture coordinates a mandatory surveillance program for more than 23,000 captive deer on 1,100 breeding farms, hobby farms and shooting preserves. Eleven captive deer have tested positive since 2012.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission collects samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk as well as those that appear sick or behave abnormally.

In areas where CWD has been detected in captive or free-ranging deer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has responded by creating Disease Management Areas, within which special rules apply regarding the hunting and feeding of wild deer.

At this point, however, it is not yet known how this case will affect those who live or hunt in the area, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough.

“Each hunting season we sample many of the deer harvested by hunters, both within our Disease Management Areas and elsewhere in the state, and within Disease Management Area 2, we test every known road-killed deer for CWD,” Hough said. “So far this year, positive CWD tests have come back regarding seven road-killed deer within DMA 2, but we await results from more than 3,000 samples from hunter-harvested deer.

“When all of those samples are returned, we will make our decision on how the boundaries of existing Disease Management Areas will change. At that time, we could implement special rules regarding the feeding and hunting of deer in parts of Franklin County where this new CWD case has been detected,” Hough said.

For more information, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and search “Chronic Wasting Disease.”