RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has received laboratory results from all chronic wasting disease (CWD) samples collected through the 2009-2010 hunting season, and no additional positives were found. Since 2002, nearly 5,000 samples have been collected in Virginia, and CWD has been detected in only one deer.

The deer was killed by a hunter on November 14, 2009, in western Frederick County and was one of more than 200 hunter-killed and vehicle-killed deer in the Active Surveillance Area tested this year for CWD. The Active Surveillance Area consists of parts of western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. VDGIF biologists have focused CWD surveillance in this area since 2005, when a deer with the disease was found in Hampshire County, West Virginia, within 10 miles of the Virginia state line. Deer with CWD have been found in that area of West Virginia every year since then. This is the first year that a deer with the disease has been detected in Virginia.

Earlier this week, the Wildlife and Boat Committee of the VDGIF Board was briefed on the CWD situation in Frederick County and potential CWD response measures for the coming year. Guided by the CWD Response Plan, the Department is considering a range of potential measures to continue looking for CWD and to contain the spread of the disease in western Frederick County. Potential measures include:

  • delineation of CWD management and surveillance areas,
  • mandatory checking or disease testing of hunter-harvested deer,
  • prohibition of deer feeding,
  • restriction in the movement and disposal of deer carcasses,
  • restriction of deer rehabilitation, and
  • reduction of deer populations.

Specific recommendations are currently slated to be announced in April. A public meeting will be held in Frederick County at that time as part of the communication on any new measures.

CWD has been detected in 16 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, acting confused, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets.

Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF.

For additional information on CWD, please visit the Department’s Web site.