Last fall, 300 brain and lymph node tissue samples from hunter harvested white-tailed deer were submitted to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center for Chronic Wasting Disease testing. One hundred random samples were collected from each county. Final test results just received showed all the samples to be negative for the disease. According to Ken Reynolds, Wildlife Research Program Manager with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, “300 samples gave us a 95% probability of detecting the disease if it existed in 1% or more of the deer population. While not 100% assurance of no disease, we are encouraged by these results.”
Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, is a neurological condition found in deer and elk where an abnormal protein material called a prion invades and gradually destroys the animal’s brain. It is thought to be 100% fatal. The disease has been found in several western and mid-western states and western Canadian provinces. Surveillance programs, like Delaware’s, have been established in all eastern states and monitoring will continue in future years. So far, all eastern herds seem to be disease free. Extensive research has found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.