The first positive case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in New York State has been confirmed in a white-tailed doe from a captive herd in Oneida County. CWD is a transmissible disease that affects the brain and central nervous system of deer and elk.

There is no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans or domestic livestock other than deer and elk.

The animal that tested positive for CWD was a six-year old white-tailed doe that was slaughtered from a captive herd in Oneida County as part of the State’s mandatory CWD surveillance and testing protocols. Preliminary tests performed at the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University determined the presumptive positive, which was confirmed late yesterday by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has officially quarantined the index herd in which the positive deer was found, and will depopulate and test all deer on the premises. Other herds associated with the index herd have also been quarantined and an investigation has been initiated to find and test any susceptible deer that came into contact with the index herd and to assess the health and environmental risks associated with such establishments. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will conduct intensive monitoring of the wild deer population surrounding the index herd to ensure CWD has not spread to wild deer.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of deer and elk. Scientific and epidemiological research into CWD is ongoing. To date, research shows that the disease is typified by chronic weight loss, is always fatal, and is transmissible between susceptible species. CWD has only been found in members of the deer family in North America, which include white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

CWD has been detected in both wild and captive deer and elk populations in isolated regions of North America. To date, CWD has been found in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming in the United States, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada.

Establishing the known CWD health status of captive and wild cervid populations is a critical component for controlling CWD. In New York, the responsibility for controlling CWD is shared between the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, DEC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). New York’s cooperative, active surveillance program serves as a model for the nation in CWD control.

The State Department of Agriculture and Markets monitors the health and movement of all captive deer and elk for the presence of common livestock diseases, including CWD. In July 2004, the Department initiated the CWD Enhanced Surveillance and Monitoring Program, which requires captive deer and elk herd owners to take various actions, including routine sampling and testing, animal identification and an annual herd inventory. Since the inception of testing for CWD in 2000, 681 captive deer and elk have been tested and found negative for CWD.

DEC issues licenses to individuals who possess, import or sell white-tailed deer. DEC also routinely tests New York’s wild deer population. Following the discovery of CWD in Wisconsin, DEC implemented a statewide surveillance program in April 2002 to test wild white-tailed deer for the presence of CWD. Samples are collected and sent to an approved USDA laboratory for analysis. To date, DEC has taken samples from 3,457 wild white-tailed deer, including 40 from the county where the positive deer was found. All samples from wild white-tailed deer have tested to date have been negative for CWD.

DEC will also implement precautionary regulations limiting transportation and possession of whole carcasses and some parts of wild deer taken near the location of the captive herd. These regulations will be similar to those currently in place for importation of carcasses and parts of deer into New York.

DEC has also implemented regulations restricting various activities to help control CWD within the State, including restrictions on the importation of live deer and elk, deer feeding, importation and possession of certain deer parts and carcasses, and transportation of deer and elk carcasses through New York State.

USDA APHIS supports individual State programs by providing funding for CWD prevention and surveillance. USDA APHIS reimburses states conducting CWD testing on their wild and captive cervid population and also provides indemnification dollars for captive herds that must be destroyed due to the presence of CWD.

New York State has 433 establishments raising 9,600 deer and elk in captivity. In the wild, DEC estimates there are approximately one million deer statewide.