Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has not been found in North Carolina. Until the spring of 2005, the nearest case to North Carolina was in northern Illinois. In April 2005, New York wildlife officials reported CWD in two captive herds and among wild deer nearby. In September 2005, wildlife officials from West Virginia reported that CWD had been detected in a wild deer from the northeastern portion of their state.  In 2010 and 2011 CWD was detected just across the West Virginia border in the states of Virginia and Maryland, respectively.

The Wildlife Commission has been conducting surveillance for CWD since 1999. More than 7,499 samples have been submitted for testing. For more information concerning CWD, visit the CWD page and

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of deer and elk. TSEs are neurological diseases characterized by microscopic empty spaces in the brain matter, creating a "spongy" appearance. The disease prions attack the brains of infected animals, causing decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, a blank facial expression and repetitive walking in set patterns. Infected animals become emaciated and eventually die. To date, CWD has been found only in cervids (members of the deer family) in North America.

Important: There has been no confirmed case of CWD in North Carolina. See where CWD has been detected.

Chronic Waste Disease Response Plan

On May 17, 2002, the Wildlife Resources Commission adopted emergency rules related to holding deer and elk in captivity. These emergency rules were adopted to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease into North Carolina and to minimize the spread of this disease should it be found within our state. The Commission rules related to CWD are listed below. If you have any questions about these rules, please contact Kelly Douglass, our Captive Cervid Biologist, at (919) 707-0055.

Hemorrhagic Disease

Hemorrhagic Disease is the most important infectious disease of white-tailed deer, and outbreaks occur almost every year in the Southeast. It is caused by either of two closely related viruses, epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) virus or bluetongue virus. Because disease features produced by these viruses are indistinguishable, a general term, hemorrhagic disease, often is used when the specific virus responsible is unknown. Because EHD and bluetongue viruses are transmitted by biting flies, hemorrhagic disease is seasonal and occurs in late summer and early fall. 

Hemorrhagic Disease Report for District 3, 2014 (PDF)

Hemorrhagic Disease 2012 (PDF)

Hemorrhagic Disease Presentation Video

Southeastern Wildlife Disease Study Information on Hemorrhagic Disease of Whitetail Deer (PDF)


Hunting and West Nile Virus 

West Nile virus is an infectious disease of birds that can also infect humans. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. According to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, West Nile virus may cause flu-like symptoms in humans, such as headache, swollen glands and muscle aches, as well as a rash. Usually West Nile virus only causes mild disease in humans, but in rare cases the virus may cause encephalitis and even death. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are most likely to be severely affected by West Nile virus.

Seen a Sick Deer?

If you have seen or harvested a sick deer, please call your local District Biologist or the Wildlife Division at 919-707-0050.

Signs to look for:

  • Isolation from other animals
  • Listlessness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Frequent lowering of the head
  • Blank facial expressions
  • Continuously walking in set patterns
  • Drooling and grinding of teeth
  • Drinking lots of water and increased urination
  • Low weight
For more information, see our Chronic Wasting Disease Fact Sheet.