Author Archives: Josh C



HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvanians who harvest deer anywhere in New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia no longer may bring them home without first removing the carcass parts with the highest risk of transmitting chronic wasting disease (CWD).

As part of the fight to slow the spread of CWD in the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has updated its executive order prohibiting the importation of high-risk deer parts into Pennsylvania.

While the order has always prohibited whole deer from being brought into Pennsylvania from most U.S. states and Canadian provinces where CWD exists, it previously permitted deer harvested in New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia to be brought in, so long as the deer weren’t reported to have been harvested in any county where CWD has been detected.

The updated order gives Pennsylvania’s free-ranging deer better protection, said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.

“The previous rules didn’t provide assurance that deer harvested in CWD-positive counties within New York, Ohio, Maryland or West Virginia weren’t making their way into the Commonwealth,” Burhans said. “While the order prohibited the high-risk parts of those deer from being imported into Pennsylvania, enforcement was difficult for many reasons.

“As we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, just because CWD appears confined to a specific area, doesn’t mean it won’t turn up somewhere completely new, miles away,” Burhans said. “Tightening up this order puts teeth in the Game Commission’s ability to enforce it, allowing us to better protect our deer and elk from CWD.”

Now that the updated order has taken effect, there are a total of 24 states and two Canadian provinces from which high-risk cervid parts cannot be imported into Pennsylvania.

The parts ban affects hunters who harvest deer, elk, moose, mule deer and other cervids in: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Those harvesting cervids in the identified states and provinces must leave behind the carcass parts that have the highest risk for transmitting CWD. Those parts are: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.

Hunters who are successful in those states and provinces from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present.

Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.

Pennsylvania first detected chronic wasting disease in 2012 at a captive deer facility in Adams County. The disease has since been detected in free-ranging and captive deer in parts of southcentral and northcentral Pennsylvania. To date, 104 free-ranging CWD-positive deer have been detected in Pennsylvania.

The Game Commission in late February also established its fourth Disease Management Area, DMA 4, in Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties in response to CWD turning up at a captive deer facility in Lancaster County.

Burhans said hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in a state or province where CWD is known to exist should follow instructions from that state’s wildlife agency on how and where to submit the appropriate samples to have their animal tested. If, after returning to Pennsylvania, a hunter is notified that his or her harvest tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to immediately contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which they reside for disposal recommendations and assistance.

A list of region offices and contact information can be found at by scrolling to the bottom of any page to select the “Connect with Us” tab.

First identified in 1967, CWD affects members of the cervid family, including all species of deer, elk and moose. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the disease is always fatal to the cervids it infects.

As a precaution, CDC recommends people avoid eating meat from deer and elk that look sick or that test positive for CWD.

More information on CWD can be found at CDC’s website,

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs of CWD include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death.

Much more information on CWD, as well as a video showing hunters how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website.

NY – New York State Releases Final Plan to Minimize Risk of Chronic Wasting Disease for Deer and Moose Herds

DEC and DAM to Implement Strongest Efforts in Nation to Combat CWD

New York is the Only State to Eliminate CWD after Discovery in Wild Populations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner (Ag & Markets) Richard Ball today announced that the state has finalized the New York State Interagency Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Risk Minimization Plan. The plan proposes regulatory changes and new actions to minimize the risk of CWD entering or spreading in New York State.

The plan is designed to protect both wild white-tailed deer and moose herds in New York, as well as captive cervids including deer and elk held at enclosed facilities.

“New York is leading the nation in protecting our valuable deer and moose populations and ensuring our hunting and outdoor recreation economy continues to thrive,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “This important plan streamlines operations and proposes strong actions to prevent the introduction of CWD, and is the result of a strong partnership effort of sporting groups, deer farmers, and other stakeholders. I commend the DEC and Ag and Markets staff and all our partners for their assistance in developing this action plan and look forward to working with them to implement these important strategies.”
Ag & Markets Commissioner Ball said, “Working with DEC, Ag & Markets is proud to have assisted with the development of critical disease prevention measures for our deer and moose populations. Our dedicated veterinarians and veterinary technicians play integral roles in controlling and preventing CWD in deer herds across the State through diligent surveillance and testing, as do our deer farmers who understand the importance of complying with these regulations in order to protect our wildlife and their own herds.”

DEC biologists worked with Ag & Markets veterinarians and wildlife health experts at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University to craft a comprehensive set of disease prevention measures that are among the most advanced CWD prevention strategies in the nation. The plan updates reporting requirements, improves communication to stakeholders, and simplifies regulations to reduce confusion while protecting New York’s valuable natural resources.

In addition to conducting joint inspections of cervid farms and increased record sharing among agencies, the plan will prohibit the importation of certain parts from any CWD-susceptible cervid taken outside of New York and includes specific restrictions on what will be allowed into the state.

The plan also calls for increased public participation in the state’s efforts, and DEC and Ag & Markets are urging hunters and citizens to:

  • Report sick or abnormally behaving deer;
  • Do not feed wild deer;
  • Dispose of carcasses properly at approved landfills;
  • Report violators;
  • Use alternatives to urine-based lures or use synthetic forms of deer urine.

New York State ranks 6th in the nation in white-tailed deer hunting with more than 575,000 hunters harvesting an average of 210,000 deer each year. New York’s white tailed deer population estimates range from 900,000 to 1 million. Wild white-tailed deer hunting represents a $1.5 billion industry in the state.

Chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disease found in certain species of the deer family, was discovered in Oneida County wild and captive white-tailed deer in 2005. More than 49,000 deer have been tested statewide since 2002, and there have been no reoccurrences of the disease since 2005. New York is still the only state to have eliminated CWD once it was found in wild populations. Other states have not been as fortunate. In North America, CWD has been found in 24 states and three Canadian provinces, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Bryan J. Burhans, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Game Commission, said, “CWD is an ecological disaster unfolding before our eye. There is no doubt that CWD threatens to future of wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania. We applaud the New York DEC and Ag & markets for their proactive efforts to develop a CWD risk minimization plan to reduce the opportunity for this dreaded disease to become established in NY. We are all in this fight together.”

Senator Tom O’Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “These are critical actions to help protect New York State’s deer and moose populations. I applaud the state for working in partnership with Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center and with fundamental input from sporting organizations and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive response.”

Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch, said, “I applaud DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball for their continued efforts to prevent the spread of CWD in New York. To date, we are the only state to have stopped the spread of CWD after discovering it in wild populations. This is largely because of the dedication and hard work of the various biologists, veterinarians and wildlife experts who have worked tirelessly in the field to study and implement strategies to prevent further spread of the disease. I would like to thank all the stakeholders involved in combating CWD, your hard work is crucial to protecting the health of New York’s wild and captive deer and moose herds.”

François Elvinger, Executive Director of the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said, “We applaud the DEC and Ag & Markets on their CWD Risk Minimization Plan. As a collaborator on this plan, our wildlife health experts provided key scientific insight into the best practices for disease prevention. The AHDC has been a key partner for both agencies over the years, through our work as the New York Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and with the New York State Wildlife Health Program. For disease surveillance in 2017, we have already tested more than 2,000 wild and captive deer and elk, with 1,000 more to go. Chronic wasting disease can be devastating to wild populations and captive animal owners, so we want to make sure we do everything possible to keep it out of the Empire State.”

Jason Kemper, Chairman of the NYS Conservation Fund Advisory Board, said, “The adoption of the CWD Risk Minimization Plan is an important moment in the protection of our deer herds now and into the future. CFAB applauds DEC and Ag & Markets efforts to reduce the likelihood of this devastating disease entering New York and implementation of measures to minimize its spread if detected. This new plan is a much needed blueprint to guide agency actions in preventing the impacts that CWD would have on our deer herd, our hunters, and everyone who cares about this magnificent resource in New York.”

Chuck Parker, President of the New York State Conservation Council, said, “The New York State Conservation Council appreciates the proactive approach that DEC and Ag & Markets have taken to date that helped in preventing the spread of CWD into New York. Moving forward, today’s release of the CWD Risk Minimization Management Plan will give our state a set of sound and flexible deer management/CWD prevention guidelines that will best serve to protect our deer population. White-tailed deer are highly valued by all residents and our most popular game species. Preventing CWD from becoming established ensures a healthy herd into the future.”

Chronic wasting disease was first identified in Colorado in 1967, and is caused by infectious prions (misfolded proteins) that cannot be broken down by the body’s normal processes. These prions cause holes to form in the brain. Prions are found in deer parts and products, including urine and feces and can remain infectious in soil for years and even be taken up into plant tissues.

Chronic wasting disease is in the same family of diseases (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) as “mad cow” disease in cattle. To date, there have been no known cases of CWD in humans or in domestic farm animals, however, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that no one knowingly eat CWD-positive venison.

The final CWD plan is available on DEC’s website.

End of article.
The plan can be seen directly here:

WI – CWD prions discovered in soil near Wisconsin mineral licks for the first time

Photo: White-tailed deer buck

In Wisconsin, Chronic Wasting Disease s concentrated among white-tailed deer in southwestern and southeastern counties. Photo: USDA Agricultural Research Service

New research out of the University of Wisconsin–Madison has, for the first time, detected prions responsible for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in samples taken from sites where deer congregate.

Scientists searched for prions at mineral licks — areas where deer seek out essential nutrients and minerals — in the CWD endemic area across south-central Wisconsin. Out of 11 sites, nine had detectable levels of the disease-causing misfolded proteins. Prions were found both in soil and in water from the sites, as well as in nearby fecal samples from one site.

This research helps confirm longstanding suspicions that prions can accumulate in the environment in areas such as mineral licks or feeding and baiting sites where deer congregate.  Scientists believe that environmental reservoirs of prions could serve as an additional transmission route of CWD, which also passes between deer through direct contact. Environmental reservoirs of prions are not expected to pose a health hazard to humans but could be a potential source of transmission to other animals.

In Wisconsin, CWD is concentrated in southwestern and southeastern counties. More than 30 percent of adult male deer are infected in portions of Iowa County, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The disease is fatal and is transmitted through infectious prion proteins. It is unknown if humans can contract CWD from eating infected meat, but the World Health Organization has recommended that people avoid doing so. No cases of human transmission have been reported.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey with support from the National Science Foundation, was published May 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Michael Samuel, an emeritus professor of wildlife ecology, and Joel Pedersen, a professor of soil science, led the work, with colleagues in forest and wildlife ecology and the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“This is the first time that anyone has demonstrated the existence of prions in naturally contaminated soil,” says Pedersen.

Environmental prions have previously been shown to infect deer in heavily contaminated experimental enclosures of deer. In 2009, researchers in Colorado also identified prions in untreated water entering a water treatment plant.

Locations of sampled mineral licks and prevalence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in hunter-harvested white-tailed deer from 2010–2013 in south-central Wisconsin, USA. Squares are townships of 9.66 km per side. Inset shows state of Wisconsin, USA. Site 6 denotes the mineral lick with CWD-positive fecal samples. Photo courtesy of PLOS ONE

The prions were detected using a technique that amplifies the small amount of misfolded, diseased version of prion proteins isolated from soil or water samples. The misfolded varieties are added to a pool of properly folded proteins from mice engineered to produce them. The diseased folding state is transmitted to properly folded proteins, increasing the number of diseased prions and facilitating measurement.

It is not clear if the quantity of soil-dwelling prions detected in the current study are sufficient to infect deer.

“Although we are able to detect prions, quantifying the amount present is still difficult using this technique,” says Pedersen. Previous research by the Pedersen lab has demonstrated that soil-bound prions are more effective than free prions at infecting hamsters.

“It’s a great advance for trying to understand how this disease transmits in the environment,” says Rodrigo Morales, a professor of neurology and prion researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who was not affiliated with the study. “It explains what could be the main source of (transmission).”

Samuel says the significance of prion-contaminated environments in the spread and persistence of CWD among free-ranging deer remains unknown.

“We know it can occur, but we just don’t know how it occurs in the wild, or how important it is relative to deer contacting each other,” says Samuel.

Ten of the mineral lick sites tested in the study were artificial, while one was natural. Nine of the 11 sites were on private land and were tested with permission of the landowner.

“We manage most diseases by trying to interrupt their spread. Having CWD concentrated at animal licks means that’s going to be difficult,” says Don Waller, a professor of botany and environmental studies at UW–Madison who researches Wisconsin’s deer herds and was not involved in the study.

“It’s not easy to test for CWD, but this result suggests we should be looking for hot-spots of CWD prions in the environment and doing all we can to cover them up so animals can’t get to them. We may also want to do more testing in other animal species to see which may be vulnerable to CWD infection,” says Waller.

End of article

The published research article can be found here Mineral licks as environmental reservoirs of chronic wasting disease prions (PLOS)

NIH study finds no chronic wasting disease transmissibility in macaques


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) did not cross the species barrier to infect cynomolgus macaque monkeys during a lengthy investigation by National Institutes of Health scientists exploring risks to humans.

CWD is a type of brain-damaging and fatal prion disease found in deer, elk and moose; in humans, prion diseases can take more than a decade to develop. In the study, appearing in the Journal of Virology, 14 macaques were cerebrally and orally exposed to brain matter from CWD-infected deer and elk, and then monitored for up to 13 years. Macaques often are used to model human prion diseases because they are genetically similar to humans and are susceptible to several types of prion diseases known to infect people.

Researchers screened tissues for prion disease using several tests — including the highly sensitive RT-QuIC assay — and found no clinical, pathological or biochemical evidence suggesting that CWD was transmitted to macaques, according to their paper. RT-QuIC is Real-Time Quaking-Induced Conversion, developed at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, part of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A key public health concern is whether people who consume meat or products from CWD-infected animals are susceptible to prion disease. CWD was first identified in 1967 in captive deer held in Colorado wildlife facilities. CWD has been gradually spreading in U.S. wildlife and is now found in 25 states as well as in Canada. The disease also has been found in South Korea, Norway and Finland.

Human prion diseases include fatal insomnia; kuru; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome; and variant, familial and sporadic Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD). Sporadic CJD is the most common human prion disease, affecting about one in one million people annually worldwide. Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in cattle.

Despite these findings, researchers suggest that people err on the side of caution and not consume meat from game animals that appear ill or thin, or are confirmed carriers of CWD.


B Race et al. Lack of Transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease to Cynomolgus Macaques. Journal of Virology DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00550-18 (2018).


Bruce Chesebro, M.D., chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases, is available to comment on this study.


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This press release describes a basic research finding. Basic research increases our understanding of human behavior and biology, which is foundational to advancing new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Science is an unpredictable and incremental process — each research advance builds on past discoveries, often in unexpected ways. Most clinical advances would not be possible without the knowledge of fundamental basic research.

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About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


Full article can be found here:

APHIS Extends Comment Period for Proposed Changes to the Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Program Standards


Last Modified: Apr 26, 2018


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is extending the comment period for the revised Chronic Wasting Disease Program Standards. On March 29, 2018, APHIS announced revised standards that provide guidance on how to meet program and interstate movement requirements.  The revised standards addressed concerns of State and industry participants.  The comment period has been extended for an additional 30 days – to May 30, 2018 – to allow the public additional time to prepare and submit comments. 

The docket is available to review and submit comments here: 

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