A white-tailed deer that was killed by a vehicle in Bedford County this fall has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The deer, a 1 ½–year-old buck, was struck on Interstate 99 in November and sent for testing as part of Pennsylvania’s ongoing effort to monitor the prevalence and spread of CWD, which is fatal to members of the deer family, but, is not known to be transmitted to humans.
This positive test is unlikely to have much impact on hunters, but it serves as a reminder that CWD has been found in southcentral Pennsylvania. The PA Game Commission already has established perimeters around the sites where CWD was detected previously, and within the boundaries of these Disease Management Areas (DMAs), special rules apply to hunters and residents.
There are two DMAs in Pennsylvania, which are intended in part to contain and slow the spread of CWD. The buck that tested positive was killed within what is known as DMA 2, a 900-square-mile area that includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties. More precisely, the site where the buck was killed is between two sites where CWD was detected last year.
This is the first case of CWD detected in Pennsylvania this year, but not all of the samples collected this year have been tested. The Game Commission targeted collecting and testing 1,000 samples within in each DMA, as well as 3,000 samples from additional deer statewide.
CWD was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive facility in Adams County. Subsequently, three free-ranging deer harvested by hunters during the 2012 season – two deer in Blair County and one in Bedford County – tested positive for CWD.
CWD is not a new disease. The disease is spread from deer to deer through direct and indirect contact. CWD attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, and will eventually result in the death of the infected animal. There is no live test for CWD and no known cure. There also is no evidence CWD can be transmitted to humans, however, it is recommended the meat of infected animals not be consumed.
For more information on CWD, the rules applying within DMAs or what hunters can do to have harvested deer tested for CWD; visit the Game Commission’s website. Information can be found by clicking on the button titled “CWD Information” near the top of the homepage.
The PGC will continue to monitor for CWD and keep a watchful eye on test results. The simple fact CWD has been detected in Pennsylvania shouldn’t keep anybody from enjoying deer hunting, or venison from healthy deer.
Late-season deer hunting is now underway statewide and, in some parts of the state, deer hunting is open through the last Saturday in January.