Cottrell added that, the Game Commission, with the assistance of the Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of Agriculture, has conducted tests on about 300 elk and more than 94,000 deer killed by hunters in Pennsylvania over the past six years. Since 1998, more than 500 deer that have died of unknown illness or were exhibiting abnormal behavior also have been tested. No evidence of CWD has been found in these samples. The Game Commission will continue to monitor for and collect samples from deer and elk that appear sick or behave abnormally.
First identified in 1967, CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that affects cervids, including all species of deer, elk and moose. It is a progressive and always fatal disease, which scientists theorize is caused by an agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form. CWD is present in free-ranging wildlife or captive cervid populations in 14 states and two Canadian provinces.
There currently is no practical way to test live white-tails for CWD, and there is no vaccine to prevent an animal from contracting the disease, nor is there a cure for animals that become infected. Fortunately, there currently is no evidence of CWD being transmissible to humans or to other non-cervid livestock under normal conditions.
Deer harboring CWD may not show any symptoms in the disease's early stages. The incubation period for CWD is from 12 to 18 months, but animals may show clinical signs or demonstrate behavioral characteristics for two to five years. Commonly observed signs of an infected animal include lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death.
Hunters who see deer behaving oddly, that appear to be sick, or that are dying for unknown reasons are urged to contact the nearest Game Commission Region Office. Hunters shou
|SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission|
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