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Chronic wasting disease infects 2 more captive deer, state agency says

Stephen Huba
| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 11:18 a.m.
A herd of white-tailed deer.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
A herd of white-tailed deer.

Two more captive deer in Pennsylvania have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, bringing the total to 46 since the disease was discovered in 2012, the state Department of Agriculture said.

Tests confirmed the disease in one white-tailed deer on a hunting preserve in Bedford County and one at a Lancaster County breeding operation. Both deer were born and raised on their respective premises, representing the first positive diagnoses for either farm.

The state did not identify either operation. Both are under quarantine.

This is the first positive test result in a Lancaster County captive deer.

“The Department of Agriculture takes the emergence and spread of CWD in white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania very seriously,” said Dr. David Wolfgang, state veterinarian. “The department is committed to cooperating with deer farmers, the Game Commission and foresters to keep deer populations in Pennsylvania healthy and at viable population levels.”

Wolfgang noted farmers with captive deer and other susceptible species must participate in one of two state programs and follow specific procedures outlined for their program.

The department's Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg tested the deer. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the findings.

CWD 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 or contaminated environment.

Clinical signs include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk may allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators. There is no known treatment or vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report no strong evidence that humans or livestock can contract CWD.

The first cases of CWD in Pennsylvania were detected in white-tailed deer that died in 2012 on an Adams County deer farm, and wild white-tailed deer in Blair and Bedford counties.

The state Department of Agriculture coordinates a mandatory surveillance program for the disease for 860 breeding farms, hobby farms and hunting preserves across the state.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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