Author: Kayleigh Penny/Wednesday, February 8, 2023/Categories: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Conserving, From the Field, Home, News, Wildlife Health
RALEIGH, N.C. (February 8, 2023) – Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced today that a sample collected from a hunter-harvested, white-tailed deer in Cumberland County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This is the first case of CWD detected outside of the current surveillance area.
The agency recently received notification that a deer harvested last October, nine miles east of Fayetteville in Cumberland County, tested positive for CWD. The testing sample was collected by a taxidermist enrolled in the Commission’s Cervid Health Cooperator Program, which allows participating taxidermists and processors to collect samples from deer brought to their facilities.
CWD was first detected in North Carolina earlier in 2022 in a Yadkin County deer that was harvested in December of 2021. Commission staff ramped up surveillance during the 2022-23 deer season, more than doubling the number of samples collected and tested compared to the previous season. Statewide 15,851 samples were submitted from Cervid Health Cooperators and hunters.
“The submission of deer samples for testing is essential for the detection and monitoring of CWD in North Carolina,” said Brad Howard, chief of the Commission’s Wildlife Management Division. “We are so appreciative of all the participation from those who have submitted samples, including hunters, taxidermists and meat processors.”
The Commission continues to receive results from this year’s testing. At this time, the agency has received results from 80% (12,751 of 15,851) of all samples submitted, and 98% (4,709 of 4,799) of results from primary and secondary surveillance areas (Alleghany, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties) that were initiated because of the initial Yadkin County CWD-positive deer. The Cumberland County deer is the ninth CWD-positive result in the state, a substantial but not unexpected increase. Of these nine positives, five were from Surry County, two were from Yadkin, one was from Stokes County, and the most recent from Cumberland County.
Agency staff will continue to follow the CWD Response Plan in collaboration with the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and will continue to share the agency’s next steps with the public through multiple communication channels. Public meetings in the impacted areas will be announced as they are scheduled.
“Working collaboratively with hunters, taxidermists and processors to implement our response plan and refine our long-term management strategy is paramount for slowing the spread of CWD,” said Howard. “CWD on the landscape presents a host of challenges, but our goal continues to be preserving our deer herd and the tradition of deer hunting.”
Continued testing is imperative because it’s nearly impossible to tell if a deer has CWD by observation. Signs of illness may not be apparent for 16 months or more after a deer is infected, and given enough time, the disease is always fatal. The long incubation period, ease of transmission, and the fact that there is no vaccine, treatment or cure make CWD a looming threat to the state’s white-tailed deer population and deer hunting traditions.
CWD is caused by abnormal proteins, called prions, that slowly spread through a deer’s nervous system, eventually causing spongy holes in the brain that lead to death. The disease is spread between deer through direct contact and environmental contamination from infected saliva, urine and feces. CWD can be unknowingly spread to new areas by the transportation of hunter-harvested deer carcasses or carcass parts.
For more information about CWD, including a chart that shows testing results to date, visit ncwildlife.org/CWD.
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