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Chronic wasting disease found in another deer in state

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 7:24 p.m.

Another Pennsylvania deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, this time in a previously uninfected area.

On Tuesday, officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that a 5-year-old whitetail on a deer farm in Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, had the disease known as CWD. Testing done at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg confirmed that.

The deer, now dead, is the seventh in the state to have tested positive for the disease since 2012. CWD first showed up in two captive deer in Adams and York counties. It has been found in five wild deer in Bedford and Blair counties since.

The Jefferson County deer farm, as well as another in Walnutport, Northampton County, where it was born, has been quarantined, according to a news release from the Agriculture Department. No deer can be moved on or off either property.

An investigation is continuing, and additional herds may be quarantined, the release added.

Chronic wasting disease is an always-fatal disease that attacks the brains of cervids, including deer, elk and moose. It's transmitted through contact with saliva, feces and urine. Sick animals exhibit multiple symptoms, including weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling and depression.

There is no way to test an animal for the disease without killing it.

Once confined to Western states, the disease crossed the Mississippi River and showed up in Wisconsin in 2002. It's since spread to a number of states, including West Virginia, Maryland, Illinois and Virginia in addition to Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission submitted samples from 5,121 deer for CWD testing this winter. Two bucks in Bedford County tested positive for the disease. It's still awaiting the results of nearly 2,500 additional samples.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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