Chronic Wasting Disease Confirmed in Pennsylvania
Posted: November 6, 2012
The disease is fatal in deer, elk and moose, but there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The World Health Organization.
“We are hopeful that this disease has been identified early enough and that we can take steps to contain the disease to these specific deer farms. However, we are at the beginning of a process that will last at least five years.”
The Game Commission has developed a Disease Management Area (DMA) map and executive order delineating where and what monitoring efforts will be undertaken for this hunting season.
As part of the Game Commission’s order a variety of actions that will impact hunters has been put into place. Namely:
1. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from moving high-risk parts outside of the DMA. High-risk cervid parts include: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides. Parts not considered high-risk include: meat, without the backbone; cleaned skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts. To accomplish this, the agency will contract with processors to be available at the check station to serve those hunters who plan to move their harvest outside of the DMA without taking high-risk parts with them.
2. Hunters who harvest a deer within the DMA during the two-week firearms deer season (Nov. 26-Dec. 8) are required to bring their deer to a mandatory check station so that samples can be collected for CWD testing. For those participating in any other deer season prior to or after the two-week firearms deer season within the DMA, bringing harvested deer to the check station is voluntary, but encouraged. Deer harvested outside of the DMA will not be eligible for testing at the check station; however, hunters may get their deer checked by the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Laboratory, for a fee, by calling 717-787-8808.
3. Hunters within the DMA are prohibited from using or possessing any cervid urine-based attractants. Such attractants cause deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.
Additionally, the order prohibits the rehabilitation of deer within the DMA, as those deer will be euthanized and tested for CWD.
The order also prohibits the feeding of cervids, which causes deer to congregate in certain areas and increases the likelihood that CWD could spread if it is found in the wild.
Finally, those individuals with a menagerie permit from the Game Commission will be prohibited from transporting live deer into or out of the DMA, and no new menagerie permits will be issued for locations within the DMA.
The order does not impact cervid livestock operations, which are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.
The physical boundaries of the DMA are: Starting at the intersection of Interstate-76 and the west bank of the Susquehanna River heading south along the River (21.8 miles) to US Highway 30. Westbound on US Highway 30 (18.3 miles) to Highway 116. Highway 116 towards Hanover (13.7 miles). In Hanover, southwest on State Highway 194 (7 miles) to Littlestown, then northwest on State Highway 97 (9.7 miles) to Gettysburg. In Gettysburg, north on State Highway 34 (14.3 miles) to the Idaville Road. East on Idaville Road (4.8 miles) to the intersection of State Highway 94. North State Highway 94 (2 miles) to Latimore Road. East on Latimore Road (1.6 miles) to Mountain Road. North on Mountain Road (6.9 miles) to Dillsburg and the intersection of US Highway 15. North on US Highway 15 (3.2 miles) to the Yellow Breeches Creek (County Line). Northeast along the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek (12.1 miles) to the intersection of I-76. East along I-76 (6.4 miles) to the intersection of the west bank of Susquehanna River and the starting point.
CWD attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. It is transmitted by direct animal-to-animal contact through saliva, feces and urine.
Signs of the disease include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior such as stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk may also allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators. The disease is fatal and there is no known treatment or vaccine.
CWD was first discovered in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967, and has since been detected in 21 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania’s neighboring states of New York, West Virginia and Maryland. Pennsylvania is the 22nd state to find CWD in a captive or wild deer population and the 13th state to have it only in a captive deer herd.
Surveillance for CWD has been ongoing in Pennsylvania since 1998. The Agriculture Department coordinates a mandatory CWD monitoring program for more than 23,000 captive deer on 1,100 breeding farms, hobby farms and shooting preserves.
In addition, the Game Commission collects samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk and those that appear sick or behave abnormally. Since 1998, the Game Commission has submitted for testing more than 38,000 free-ranging deer and elk for CWD, and all have tested negative.
For more information from the departments of Agriculture and Health and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, visit:
* www.agriculture.state.pa.us (click on the “Chronic Wasting Disease Information” button on the homepage),
* www.pgc.state.pa.us (click on “CWD Info”), and
* www.health.state.pa.us (click on “Diseases and Conditions”).