Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is invariably fatal for deer. A case was recently discovered in a Pennsylvania hunting preserve near the New York State’s Chautauqua County Border.
CWD causes extreme weight loss in deer, and lesions in their brains. It’s caused by a misfolded protein, known as a prion. The disease-associated prion causes normal proteins to also misfold.
The disease can incubate in a deer for around two years before it is visible. During this time, infected deers are highly contagious. CWD can spread from deer to deer simply through physical contact, and through fluids and feces as well.
The case of CWD in question was discovered in a fenced-in hunting preserve in Pennsylvania. Through an abundance of caution, deer were tested for CWD and euthanized in the preserve.
Krysten Schuler is an CWD expert at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. She said this latest case of CWD will ratchet up New York’s already strong preventive measures.
She is urging a thorough investigation be made to make sure the disease did not make it through the preserve’s fence and into New York’s wild deer populations.
New York has not had a known case of CWD since 2005. It’s the only state to have successfully removed the disease from its borders. Schuler says hunters should visit the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab and DEC websites to familiarize themselves with CWD, and the role they can play in preventing Chronic Wasting Disease from spreading.