HARRISBURG, Pa., July 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was not found in samples taken from hunter-killed deer during the state's 2011 hunting season, according to Dr. Walt Cottrell, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian.
In 2011, 3,766 samples from hunter-killed deer were tested, and CWD was not detected. This marked the tenth year for testing hunter-killed deer. In total, nearly 35,000 deer and elk have been tested. CWD was not detected in any samples from previous years.
Results showing that the CWD tests of hunter-killed elk from 2011 were all negative were announced on Feb. 14.
"We are pleased to report that Pennsylvania continues to have no confirmed or suspected cases of CWD in wild deer or elk," Cottrell said. "By conducting these tests from hunter-killed deer and on all hunter-killed elk, we continue our efforts to find the disease in wild deer and elk in the state."
The CWD tests on deer and elk samples were conducted by the New Bolton Center, which is the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary diagnostic laboratory, and the state Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg. Under a contract with Penn State University, the elk samples also were tested for brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis and found to be free of those diseases.
Heads from hunter-killed deer were collected from deer processors by deer aging teams during the two-week rifle deer season. Specific tissues were collected from these heads at Game Commission region offices by agency personnel and Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of agriculture animal health officials.
"The test results are good news," Cottrell said. "Although CWD has not been found in Pennsylvania, we must continue to be vigilant in our CWD surveillance efforts. The surveillance work we are doing is important for the early detection of CWD. Let's not forget that CWD has been found just over 10 miles away from our border in Maryland, which is likely to be part of the spread of the disease from West Virginia. There is no reason to expect that it will not eventually come into Pennsylvania.
"We already are planning to continue testing hunter-killed deer and elk during the 2012-13 seasons, and we are pleased that the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture will continue to play an important role in this disease surveillance program. However, we will also be increasing our surveillance by sampling road-killed deer adjacent to Maryland and investigating every clinically suspect deer that our time and budget allows."
For more information on CWD and the state's CWD-prevention plan, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on "Wildlife" in the menu bar in the banner at the top of the page, then click on "Wildlife Diseases Home," and choose "Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)." The agency also has information on CWD in the "Wildlife Disease Reference Library" on the same page.
Information also can be found on the CWD Alliance's website (www.cwd-info.org).
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission