ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service announced today that none of the 75 Allegany County white-tailed deer that have been sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in recent months were found to have the disease.
The 49 Maryland hunter-harvested deer and 26 vehicle killed deer or deer taken by Allegany County farmers using Deer Management Permits were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. About 850 hunter-harvested deer will be screened for CWD across Maryland’s 23 counties this year. Over 1,700 Maryland hunter-harvested deer have been tested for CWD from 2002 though 2004 and no CWD has been found.
Maryland stepped-up its ongoing efforts to screen Maryland deer for CWD earlier this year after the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources verified that a positive CWD white-tailed deer was identified in Hampshire County, West Virginia, about 10 miles south of Allegany County.
CWD is a disease known to infect white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. CWD is related to other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases that include scrapie in sheep, mad cow disease in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD) in humans. TSE diseases are believed to be caused by prions, abnormal cell proteins that cause other cell proteins to change.
There is no current evidence that humans can contract CWD from eating venison. However, relatively little is known about CWD and as a result, researchers and public officials are taking a cautious approach to the disease. DNR recently published new CWD guidelines for hunters which can be found at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrnews/pressrelease2005/111705a.html Additional information concerning CWD can be found on the Maryland DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/cwdinformation.asp.