State: Chronic wasting disease appears to be spreading |
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Stephen Huba

State game authorities have identified three more deer in Somerset County that have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The white-tailed deer, which had been killed after being struck by cars, were tested after being picked up by the state’s roadkill contractor, the Somerset Daily American reported.

The three in Somerset County were among 123 additional free-ranging deer that have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, or CWD, since last year. As a result, the game commission has expanded Disease Management Areas 2 and 3.

DMA 2 now covers more than 6,715 square miles, an expansion of 2,101 square miles since last year, and includes all or parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

DMA 2 now includes most of Somerset County and a small northeast portion of Westmoreland County, the game commission said.

The expansion largely is due to the discovery of two new CWD cases in Juniata and Perry counties, each of which was 20 miles or more away from the nearest previously documented case. Both deer were adults, and one displayed clinical symptoms of CWD at the time of death, which suggests CWD is established in the area and other deer in the area might already be infected, the game commission said.

Within DMAs, specific hunting regulations apply to help prevent the spread of CWD, which has been found in the wild deer population in 10 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Chronic wasting disease afflicts members of the deer family, including whitetail, mule deer, moose and elk. The disease, which is progressive and always fatal, causes weight loss and behavioral changes in animals before ultimately leading to their death.

CWD-infected deer, on average, do not display clinical symptoms of the disease for 18 to 24 months.

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