Second Deer From PA With CWD Confirmed

November 20, 2012

A second deer from the deer farm in New Oxford, Adams County, has been confirmed to have been infected with chronic wasting disease, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

The same deer enclosure on a 1.5-acre lot that also includes a residence at 1491 New Chester Road, New Oxford, was the site of Pennsylvania's first confirmed case of CWD, an always fatal disease in cervids like deer, elk and moose.

Chronic wasting disease has now been confirmed in two deer in Pennsylvania.

Previous lab tests confirmed CWD Oct. 10 in a 3.5-year-old doe that died Oct. 4 in the enclosure.

That triggered the state's CWD response plan for action by agencies including Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Part of the plan called for the "depopulation" of all deer on the farm of the initial CWD confirmation, which is now referred to as "the index farm," according to Mathew Meals, deputy secretary of the state Department of Agriculture.

The other seven deer killed Oct. 18 by staff from Ag and agents from the USDA's Wildlife Services for CWD testing did not have the disease, according to Ag. There is no live-test available for suspect animals.

However, a ninth deer, a doe known as Pink 23, escaped from the enclosure while the agents were culling the herd for testing. It remains free in the wild.

The state's second positive case of CWD was a buck, according to Ag.

"Since the first positive deer was found in Pennsylvania last month, the Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force has put in place aggressive measures to prevent further spread of the disease," Agriculture Secretary George Greig was quoted in a news release from Ag.

"This positive deer was found because of those efforts, and we will continue our work to protect the state's captive and wild deer populations."

Also under the CWD response plan, the list of deer farms quarantined by Ag because of contact with deer from the New Oxford enclosure has grown to 27 farms in 16 counties.

Deer may not be moved onto or off those quarantined properties.

Farms have been quarantined in Adams, Armstrong, Blair, Clarion, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Tioga, Union and York counties. (A list of specific farms under quarantine can be found here.)

At the initial CWD-response public meeting Oct. 17, Assistant State Veterinarian David Griswold estimated that the impact of the one CWD-infected deer could hit a hundred farms across the state because "deer farmers in Pennsylvania tend to move a lot of deer."

Ag is continuing its "trace out" process to find all possible connections to the CWD deer, according to Samantha Krepps, spokesman for the department of agriculture.

The department lists 1,100 farms across the state, home to more than 23,000 deer.

Under its part of the CWD response plan, the Game Commission has established a disease management area of more than 600 square miles in Adams and York counties, around the site of the first CWD confirmation and two closely related sites.

The commission also has established a CWD check station at its maintenance building on State Game Lands 249, 1070 Lake Meade Road, East Berlin, Adams County, for all deer killed within the DMA.

The state's CWD task force meets weekly to continue moving forward with a response plan, including education and outreach through public meetings, and continued surveillance, testing and management.

In addition to Ag and Game, the state departments of Health and Environmental Protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey's Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Penn State are represented on the task force.

CWD attacks the brains of infected animals, producing small lesions that eventually result in death.

Animals can get the disease through direct contact with saliva, feces and urine from an infected animal.

There is no evidence that humans or animals other than cervids can get the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms 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 disease is always fatal and there is no known treatment or vaccine.

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