ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 9, 2003) — Results of tests on Maryland’s white-tailed deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) have found no sign of the illness in the 304 deer tested announced the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Division. Veterinarians from the Maryland Department of Agriculture and of the United States Department of Agriculture worked with DNR wildlife biologists to collect brain and lymph gland samples during Maryland’s 2002-2003 deer firearm season. Samples were taken from hunter-harvested deer in Allegany, Washington, Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties. Additional samples were obtained from managed deer hunts.
The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) lab located at the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine conducted the testing of the brain and lymph gland samples. The SCWDS internationally known lab processed samples from across the southeastern states.
Hunters who cooperated with this survey will receive a postcard that indicates that their harvested white-tailed deer tested negative for CWD. If a hunter contributed a CWD sample to DNR and does not receive a card by the end of May, they may call DNR’s deer biologist, Doug Hotton at 410-543-6595.
CWD is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord of deer and elk (cervids). It is believed to be caused by prions, which are modified proteins. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy similar to “Mad Cow Disease” in cattle and Scrapie in sheep.
CWD has been confirmed in wild cervids within the following states: Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois. It has also been found in captive cervids in the following states: Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
Additional samples of hunter harvested deer will be tested during the 2003-04 deer hunting season. In addition any sick deer reported to DNR that exhibit CWD type clinical symptoms will be tested.
More CWD information is available the DNR Web site at www.dnr.md.us/wildlife/cwdinformation.html and on The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance Web site (www.cwd-info.org)