Seven Deer Test Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in West Virginia

Seven Deer Test Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease During 2009 Spring Collections in West Virginia

West Virginia DNR
West Virginia DNR

Hampshire County, West Virginia – -( results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in a total of seven white-tailed deer sampled during the 2009 spring collections in Hampshire County, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).

These most recent deer testing positive for CWD were collected by Wildlife Resources Section personnel working in cooperation with local landowners, and they were all located within the Hampshire County CWD Containment Area (i.e., that portion of Hampshire County located North of U.S. Route 50). The CWD agent previously has been detected outside the containment area in the adjacent portion of Hampshire County, and the area of known infected deer does continue to slowly expand.

These collections have been designed to investigate and determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease in Hampshire County. In addition, wildlife biologists are carefully monitoring changes in the structure of the deer herd within the CWD containment area.

The first case of CWD in West Virginia was confirmed on September 2, 2005. Since then, DNR has been fully engaged in activities guided by its CWD Incident Response Plan, which is designed to accomplish the following objectives.

Determine the distribution and prevalence of CWD through enhanced surveillance efforts.

Communicate and coordinate with the public and other appropriate agencies on issues relating to CWD and the steps being taken to respond to this disease.

Initiate appropriate management actions necessary to control the spread of this disease and prevent further introduction of the disease.

To date, CWD surveillance efforts conducted by the DNR have resulted in a total of 45 deer being confirmed positive for CWD in Hampshire County. Ongoing and extensive surveillance efforts being conducted by Wildlife Resources Section personnel throughout West Virginia have not detected CWD outside of Hampshire County.

CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal. There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.

“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort in Hampshire County continues to be excellent,” noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the support and involvement of landowners and hunters remains essential. DNR is committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these wildlife disease management actions.

“Our well trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and conservation officers are working diligently to effectively address this wildlife disease threat, and we are collaborating with nationally recognized wildlife disease experts at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia,” said Jezioro.