Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that a doe on a Bethel Township, Fulton County breeding farm, and a buck on a Bloom Township, Clearfield County hunting preserve have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Both farms will remain under quarantine for five years from the date the positive tests were confirmed. The department also quarantined the Fulton County farm where the buck had been purchased four weeks prior to its harvest in Clearfield County.
Neither deer tested showed signs of CWD prior to its death. Both deer were born and raised in an area of Fulton County where wild deer have tested positive for CWD since 2015 and captive deer have tested positive since 2017.
The department’s Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg tested the deer, as required by the department’s CWD program. Positive test results were confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.
CWD attacks the brain of infected deer, elk and moose. There is no known treatment or vaccine. Animals can get the disease through direct contact with saliva, feces and urine from an infected animal, or contaminated environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people.
Clinical signs of CWD include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling, and depression. Infected deer and elk may also allow unusually close approach by humans or natural predators.
The infectious agent, known as a prion, tends to concentrate in the brain, spinal column, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes. To prevent disease spread, these high-risk parts must be properly handled and disposed of where the animal is killed. Parts such as deboned meat, clean skull caps and capes present little risk and may be taken home.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture coordinates a mandatory surveillance program for the disease for 874 breeding farms, hobby farms and hunting preserves across the state. Since 1998, accredited veterinarians and certified CWD technicians have tested more than 39,000 captive deer in Pennsylvania, of those, 96 have tested positive.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission collects samples from hunter-harvested deer, and elk and wild deer that appear sick or behave abnormally.