Yearly Archives: 2011

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

Download update 102 (PDF)

Deer Seized in Randolph County CWD Negative

RALEIGH, N.C. (Oct. 19, 2011) – Tissue samples from deer seized by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission from an unlicensed Randolph County facility on Sept. 20 tested negative for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

CWD is a highly contagious and devastating disease of cervid species, which include deer, caribou, moose and elk. North Carolina is home to white-tailed deer and elk in the wild, and other cervid species that are held in licensed facilities. CWD was not detected in samples analyzed by National Veterinary Services Laboratories, of Ames, Iowa, a section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers said, “The State is very fortunate that CWD was not detected in tissue samples taken from these animals. Had these test results been positive, it would have presented significant biological, economical and sociological impacts throughout North Carolina. Captive deer of unknown origin pose a serious risk to the health of all deer within our state. We were very lucky in this situation.”

If samples were found to be positive for CWD, North Carolina’s CWD Response Plan would have been implemented. Response actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Depopulation of deer within an affected zone
  • Prohibition of supplemental feeding and baiting of deer in the wild
  • Prohibition of rehabilitation or transfer of deer fawns
  • Ban the transportation of captive cervids

Following detection of CWD in the eastern United States in 2002, there has been a concerted effort to prevent the spread of CWD to North Carolina’s deer and elk populations. Stringent laws and regulations have been pivotal in preventing the importation of this highly infectious and fatal animal disease. To date, CWD has been detected in 19 states, including Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.

More information on CWD is available through the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at www.ncwildlife.org; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/cwd/ and the National CWD Alliance at www.cwd-info.org.

Colorado State University Study Looks at Test to Identify Chronic Wasting Disease in Wildlife

FORT COLLINS – A Colorado State University study is developing and evaluating a more sensitive test for chronic wasting disease – including the potential to test for infection in live animals, animal products and the environment – through a project funded by Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation.

The disease, which affects deer, moose and elk and is related to similar diseases in cattle and sheep, is a primary concern for hunters and wildlife ranchers and now affects wildlife in 19 states, 2 Canadian provinces and one Asian country.

Prions are rogue proteins that cause the family of diseases that include CWD. The diseases are known as spongiform encephalopathies. While this Morris Animal Foundation-funded study would be the first in several steps to develop and evaluate a potential new test, it will look at a method that shows promise in detecting a wider array of prions at lower levels than are currently detected.

The research into the potential test may allow detection of CWD prions in live animals, animal products and the environment.

“Developing this test may eventually lead to a more rapid and sensitive to test for CWD,” said Dr. Ed Hoover, a Colorado State University veterinarian and researcher with 30 years of experience in researching infectious diseases of animals. “But, just as significantly, it may lead to a substantial gain in our understanding of how prions spread, survive in natural habitats, and impact animal and public health.”

Currently, CWD can only be identified either by testing brain after an animal is deceased or by surgical sampling and testing lymphatic tissues. While researchers don’t know exactly how CWD is passed from animal to animal, CSU scientists discovered that body fluids such as saliva, blood, urine and feces harbor infectious prions. Animals can then be exposed by direct contact with an infected animal or by contact with a contaminated environment.

Current tests also don’t detect all levels of or kinds of infectious prions or prions in the environment, and the test being evaluated in this study has the potential to be developed into a process that would detect those prions.

The test is being researched in collaboration with Dr. Byron Caughey at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Mont. Caughey’s laboratory developed the strategy for the study. Hoover, Caughey and colleagues will focus first on determining if their proposed test detects prions in body fluids with greater sensitivity, accuracy and faster output than is currently possible.

It is unknown why an infectious prion from one species, such as deer or elk, can “jump” to infect another species, and the potential risk to other species such as cattle, or even humans, remains uncertain.

Hunters: Check the Regulations Before Taking Your Deer Carcass Out of Virginia

Richmond, VA — Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected from two deer harvested in Frederick County, Virginia, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia.

Hunters anywhere in Virginia going into Kentucky or North Carolina must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia’s CWD Containment Area (see www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd for a map) in which case, carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

For Tennessee, whole deer carcasses are allowed except those originating from anywhere in Frederick County and Shenandoah County, where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

For Virginia deer hunters hunting out-of-state, please make note of the following change to Virginia’s carcass importation regulations. Whole deer carcasses from carcass-restriction zones, rather than from the entire state or province where CWD has been detected, are prohibited from entering Virginia. For example, only the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan in West Virginia, and the county of Allegany in Maryland, are now restricted. For information regarding other carcass-restriction zones and deer parts allowed to be brought into Virginia from these zones, please visit www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is continuing several management strategies in the northern Shenandoah Valley in response to the detection of CWD. These actions include:

  • enforcement of a CWD Containment Area (CA),
  • requiring mandatory disease testing on certain days within the CA,
  • prohibiting the feeding of deer year-round,
  • prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the CA (with exceptions),
  • restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the CA,
  • prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer in the CA, and
  • maintaining liberal seasons and bag limits in an attempt to reduce the deer population.

Just as in previous years, hunters in the Containment Area should be aware of the mandatory sampling days (November 19, 26, and December 3) and be prepared to submit their deer heads for tissue samples. The Department will distribute additional information closer to those dates.

To assist with CWD surveillance, VDGIF is strongly encouraging hunters who harvest deer in the CA on days other than mandatory sampling days to voluntarily submit the head and neck from their deer for testing by bringing it to a self-service refrigerated drop station, which are located in the following places:

  • Frederick-Winchester Conservation Club, 527 Siler Road, Winchester (north of Gainesboro)
  • Walker’s Cash Store, 3321 Back Road, Woodstock (intersection with St. Luke Road)
  • North Mountain Fire and Rescue, 186 Rosenberger Lane, Winchester (off Rt. 600, behind Tom’s Market)
  • New Star Market, 2936 John Marshall Hwy, Strasburg (one mile west of I-81)

In addition to surveillance within the CA, VDGIF is collecting 1,000 samples this fall from across the entire state to assess the CWD-status of deer outside the CA.

CWD has been detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting VDGIF. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd.

It is the mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; to promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; to provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia’s fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. For more information on Virginia’s wildlife management areas, wildlife watching, hunting, fishing and boating, visit the agency’s website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.

Arizona Deer and Elk Hunters Can Assist in Monitoring for Wildlife Disease

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is requesting deer and elk hunters’ continued vigilance in monitoring for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by allowing biological samples of the animals’ lymph nodes to be collected for testing.

CWD has not yet been found in Arizona through regular annual testing since 1998. However, it is present in the neighboring states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. CWD is fatal to deer and elk; however, there is no evidence that it poses a risk to humans.

“As in past years, the participation of hunters, meat processors, and taxidermists is essential for the department’s CWD surveillance program,” said Clint Luedtke, wildlife disease biologist. “Collection of samples from elk and deer hunters in Game Management Unit 12B (which borders Utah), as well as Units 1 and 27 (which border New Mexico), is crucial in assuring CWD is not in these potential corridors near neighboring states that have detected the disease.”

For Kaibab and Arizona Strip hunters, the Jacob Lake check station will be open for collecting samples on Oct. 6-11 during the juniors-only deer hunt; on Oct. 20-31 for the general deer hunt; and on Nov. 17-28 for the late season hunt. The check station will be operational from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the following exception that the station will close early at noon on Oct. 11, 31 and Nov. 28.

Department biologists will also be collecting samples during the juniors-only elk hunt in Units 1 and 2C from Oct. 7-13. In addition, biologists will be working in the field from Oct. 27-31 in Unit 28, seeking successful hunters to provide samples for the CWD monitoring effort in this area.

Arizona hunters hunting out-of-state

To help prevent CWD from entering the state, Game and Fish asks that all deer and elk hunters hunting outside of Arizona take the necessary precautions before bringing any harvested animals back into the state. Furthermore, hunters should contact the wildlife agency in the state they are hunting, as several states have restrictions on carcass transportation.

Here are some important things out-of-state deer and elk hunters need to know before coming back to Arizona with their deer or elk harvest:

  • Do not cut into the spinal cord or remove the head.
  • Do not quarter (or other method) the carcass with any of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Do not bring the brain, intact skull, or spinal cord back into Arizona.

Successful out-of-state deer and elk hunters need to bone out the meat and package it (either commercially or privately). It is okay to bring back animal hides, as well as skull plates that have been cleaned of all tissue and washed in bleach. Heads from a taxidermist, sawed-off antlers, and ivory teeth are also OK to bring into Arizona.

Other ways to participate

All hunters are encouraged to assist the monitoring effort by bringing in the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a heavy plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun. If the weather is warm, it is best to either bring in the head within a day of harvest or keep it on ice in a cooler before delivery.

When submitting heads for sampling, please provide accurate, up-to-date hunter information (name, street address, city, state, zip code and phone number) as well as hunt information (hunt number, permit number, game management unit harvested in, county, state, and hunting license), as this information is crucial should a positive CWD sample occur. If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the sample.

Test results are now available online at www.azgfd.gov/cwd, by clicking the “Chronic Wasting Disease Test Results” link on the right side of the page.

CWD basics

Here are some guidelines for hunters when out in the field:

  • Don’t harvest any animal that appears to be sick or behaves oddly. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700 if you see an animal that is very thin, has a rough coat, drooping ears and is unafraid of humans.
  • When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Bone out the meat. Minimize contact with and do not consume brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.

The non-hunting public can also help prevent the potential spread of CWD. If you come across any deer fawn or elk calf in the wild, it should be left alone. Don’t assume it has been abandoned by the parent; in all likelihood, it hasn’t. Being a “good Samaritan” and bringing these wild animals into captivity poses a risk to the state’s wildlife resources.

CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, which include deer, elk and moose. Clinical symptoms include loss of body weight or emaciation, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, stumbling, trembling, and behavioral changes such as listlessness, lowering of the head, and repetitive walking in set patterns.

No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD affects humans, according to both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The department also has had rules in place since 2002 restricting the movement of captive deer and elk into or within the state, and subjecting those animals to marking and reporting requirements.

For more information about chronic wasting disease, visit www.azgfd.gov/cwd or www.cwd-info.org.