Early test results confirm that deer in Fauquier and Clarke counties tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to a news release by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
An incurable disease found in deer, elk and moose in North America, CWD is a slow and progressive neurologic disease that ultimately results in the death of the animal.
There is no evidence yet that CWD can be transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise hunters to test all deer harvested from known CWD-positive areas and to not consume any animals that test positive for the disease.
The disease-causing agent is spread through the urine, feces, and saliva of infected animals. Noticeable symptoms, thought they may not appear in animals for 15 to 24 months, include staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss.
Early in 2019, the first case of CWD in the region was found in a deer just south of the town of Culpeper. Two informational meetings were held in Culpeper for hunters, who were asked to bring harvested deer to the DGIF for testing.
Extensive testing for the disease was conducted in CWD disease management area 1 (Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties) and disease management area 2 (Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties) this past hunting season.
In cooperation with hunters, processors, and taxidermists, DGIF has tested more than 900 deer for CWD from area 1 and more than 1,500 deer have been tested from area 2. This testing shows it is likely a deer in Fauquier County and a deer in Clarke County had the disease. Results from samples collected toward the end of hunting season or collected through the statewide DGIF taxidermist-assisted CWD surveillance effort are still pending and will be released in the coming weeks.
These are the first detections of CWD in Clarke and Fauquier counties. The CWD-positive deer from Fauquier County was harvested less than two miles outside of the area 1 boundary.
Working cooperatively with avid outdoorsmen and women is a crucial component of effective CWD surveillance, the news release states.
Regulations pertaining to CWD, maps of affected states, and information about CWD may be found at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/disease/cwd.