Pennsylvania Confirms Chronic Wasting Disease

Pennsylvania agricultural officials have recently confirmed the state’s first case of chronic wasting disease, a deadly illness that afflicts deer, elk, and moose.

CWD was first identified in mule deer at a Colorado wildlife research facility in the 60s. Transmitted through abnormal proteins, known as prions, typically found in the central nervous system, the disease is progressive and universally fatal. Initial symptoms include weight loss, listlessness, and blank facial expressions.

The confirmation of CWD in Pennsylvania brings the total number of states affected by the illness to 23.

Unlike other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, like Mad Cow Disease, it does not appear that CWD is transmissible to humans. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that there is no evidence that the infection is zoonotic and agricultural officials have reassured Pennsylvanians that they are not in danger.

“Concerns over (chronic wasting disease) should not prevent anyone from enjoying deer hunting and consuming meat from healthy animals,” said the executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commissioner. However, he also advised hunters to shoot only healthy looking animals and to wear gloves while dressing deer carcasses.

 State agriculture officials are reassuring residents that the illness has not been found in the wild deer population and that state officials have an aggressive surveillance program and response plan in place.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer