The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) has good news to report concerning the results of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in Hampshire County , according to Director Frank Jezioro . Samples collected by DNR personnel from 1,015 hunter-harvested deer in Hampshire County this past fall were tested for CWD at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. CWD was not detected in any of these most recent samples.
“This is clearly good news,” said Jezioro. “While we cannot say CWD has disappeared from the Hampshire County area, our sampling effort gives us confidence that the number of deer infected with CWD is at very low levels.”
CWD was first confirmed in Hampshire County , West Virginia , in September 2005, when a 2½-year-old, road-killed buck collected along Route 29 near Slanesville tested positive for the disease. Based upon this information, DNR immediately implemented its CWD Response Plan and initiated enhanced surveillance efforts designed to determine the distribution and prevalence of the disease. CWD deer collection teams, comprised of personnel from the Wildlife Resouces and Law Enforcement Sections of DNR, collected 208 samples from the area located within close proximity to the initial CWD positive deer. These collections were conducted with excellent cooperation of local landowners and led to the discovery of four more deer that tested positive for CWD.
CWD sampling teams, comprised of personnel from the Wildlife Resources Section, operated nine biological checking stations throughout Hampshire County and collected CWD samples from hunter-harvested animals during the first three days of the buck season. In addition, CWD samples were collected from archery-killed deer in Hampshire County throughout the season.
“The collection and testing of more than 1,000 hunter-harvested deer this past fall is a testament to the outstanding cooperation and support we received from sportsmen and women hunting in Hampshire County ,” Jezioro said.
The Division of Natural Resources will continue its CWD surveillance efforts in 2006. Wildlife Resources Section personnel will be assessing the information gathered in Hampshire County and consulting with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study headquartered at the University of Georgia , School of Veterinary Medicine , before making recommendations that will be necessary to manage the disease in Hampshire County . In addition, personnel from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Game Commission will discuss regional CWD testing results to better coordinate efforts to detect and contain the disease.
CWD is a progressive, neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk, and 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 animal. Species known to be susceptible include elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer and moose. There is currently no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.
All hunters and members of the public are asked to keep a look out for any deer showing symptoms consistent with the disease. These clinical suspects are defined as adult (18 months or older) deer that have poor body condition with neurological signs such as abnormal behavior, tremors, stumbling, poor coordination and poor posture, including droopy ears and a lowered head, drooling, excessive thirst, and urination. Anyone who sees a CWD suspect deer should not attempt to contact, disturb or kill the animal. Instead, accurately document the location and immediately contact a Division of Natural Resources office. Arrangements will be made to investigate the report.
More information about CWD can be found on the Division of Natural Resources’ Web site: www.wvdnr.gov and the CWD Alliance website: www.cwd-info.org .