HARRISBURG – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was not detected in samples taken from hunter-killed deer during the state’s 2008 hunting season, according to Dr. Walt Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian.

In 2008, 4,224 samples from hunter-killed deer were tested, and CWD was not detected. This marked the seventh year for testing hunter-killed deer. In total, more than 22,000 deer have been tested. CWD was not detected in any samples from previous years.

Results showing that the CWD tests of hunter-killed elk from 2008 were all negative were announced on Feb. 10.

“We are pleased to report that Pennsylvania continues to have no confirmed or suspected cases of CWD in wild deer or elk,” Cottrell said. “By conducting these tests from a random sample of hunter-killed deer and on all hunter-killed elk, we help to assure ourselves and the general public that it is unlikely that CWD is present in wild deer and elk in the state.”

The CWD tests on deer and elk samples were conducted by the New Bolton Center, which is the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Under a contract with Penn State University, the elk samples also were tested for brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis and found to be free of those diseases.

Heads from hunter-killed deer were collected from deer processors by deer aging teams during the two-week rifle deer season. Specific tissues were collected from these heads at Game Commission region offices by agency personnel and Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of agriculture animal health officials.

“The test results are good news,” Cottrell said. “Although CWD has not been found in Pennsylvania, we must continue to be vigilant in our CWD monitoring efforts. The surveillance work we are doing is important for the early detection of CWD. Let’s not forget that CWD has been found in New York and only 23 miles from our state’s border in West Virginia.

“We already are planning to continue testing hunter-killed deer and elk during the 2009-10 seasons, and we are pleased that the Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of agriculture will continue to play an important role in this disease surveillance program. However, we will also be increasing our surveillance by sampling road-killed deer adjacent to West Virginia and investigating every clinically suspect deer that our time and budget allows.”

For more information on CWD and the state’s CWD-prevention plan, visit the Game Commission’s website, click on “Wildlife” in the left-hand column, then scroll down and choose “Chronic Wasting Disease” in the “Wildlife Disease” section. Additional information on CWD can be found on the CWD Alliance’s website (www.cwd-info.org).