Chronic Wasting Disease

January 16, 2020

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, and moose. CWD was first diagnosed in Virginia in 2009 and has been detected in Frederick, Shenandoah, Clark, Fauquier, and Culpeper counties.

Frederick County, over the last ten years, has had 72 cases of CWD. Shenandoah has had 10, and all other locations have each reported one case.

Of the cases detected – hunter have killed 75 deer, cars 6, and 4 as a result of suspected illness.

CWD is caused by abnormal infectious proteins called prions. Prions can pass between deer through saliva, feces, urine, and through water or soil contaminated with prions. CWD is not infectious to humans.

Older male deer are more likely to carry the disease.

The best method for prevention is to stay informed through DGIF and to contact them if you know of any deer that is contaminated.

The potential impacts of CWD to the Virginia white-tailed deer population are a serious concern, though the disease has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans or domestic animals. DGIF is responsible for CWD surveillance and management in Virginia. The Department relies on assistance from hunters, taxidermists, processors, other agencies, and diverse constituent groups to implement surveillance.

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