Pennsylvania Reports More Chronic Wasting Disease Sightings

Pennsylvania agricultural officials are reporting a second confirmed case of chronic wasting disease at a state deer farm.

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.

State officials have established a disease management area around infected farms that limits the ability of hunters to remove potentially dangerous parts of animals (namely the head and spine) outside the zone.

“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 said. “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.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer