Test results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in a total of 11 white-tailed deer collected during the 2008 spring collections in Hampshire County, West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). All of the deer testing positive for CWD were collected by Wildlife Resources Section personnel working in the Slanesville/Augusta area of the county. No new positive samples were detected in the Yellow Springs area of Hampshire County.
These collections have been designed to investigate and determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease in Hampshire County. In addition, wildlife biologists are carefully monitoring changes in the structure of the deer herd within the CWD containment area.
The first case of CWD in West Virginia was confirmed on September 2, 2005. Since that time, DNR has been fully engaged in activities guided by its CWD Incident Response Plan which is designed to accomplish the following objectives.
- Determine the distribution and prevalence of CWD through enhanced surveillance efforts.
- Communicate and coordinate with the public and other appropriate agencies on issues relating to CWD and the steps being taken to respond to this disease.
- Initiate appropriate management actions necessary to control the spread of this disease and prevent further introduction of the disease.
To date, CWD surveillance efforts conducted by DNR have resulted in a total of 31 deer being confirmed positive for CWD in Hampshire County. These include 30 deer in the Slanesville/Augusta area and one deer in the Yellow Springs area. Despite ongoing and extensive surveillance efforts being conducted by Wildlife Resouces Section personnel throughout West Virginia, CWD has not been detected outside of Hampshire County.
CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal.
There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.
“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort in Hampshire County has been excellent,” noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the continued support and involvement of landowners and hunters will be essential.” DNR remains committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these wildlife disease management actions. “We would especially like to thank all the cooperating landowners in Hampshire County for allowing our personnel to enter their property and collect deer for CWD testing,” said Jezioro.
“Our well trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and conservation officers are working diligently to fully implement the DNR’s CWD Incident Response Plan, which is designed to effectively address this wildlife disease threat,” said Jezioro. “Hunters, landowners and other members of the public should feel confident that we have some of the best wildlife biologists and veterinarians in the world, including those stationed at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia, working collaboratively on this situation.”