Deer disease discovered in Juniata County

From staff reports

HARRISBURG — Deer found in Juniata and Perry counties that tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease have led to an increase in the area of Disease Management Areas 2 and 3, which will impact hunters in those counties as well as Mifflin and Snyder counties.

Since last year, 123 additional free-ranging deer have tested positive for CWD in Pennsylvania, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. With CWD testing from the 2018 deer seasons now completed, there now have been a total of 250 known CWD cases in free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania since 2012, the release states.

DMA 2 now covers more than 6,715 square miles, an expansion of 2,101 square miles since last year. DMA 2 now includes all or parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. This expansion largely is due to the discovery of the two new CWD cases in Juniata and Perry counties.

Each of these cases is 20 miles or more away from the nearest previously documented case. Both of these deer were adults and one was displaying clinical symptoms of CWD at the time of death, which suggests CWD is established in the area and other deer in the area might already be infected.

The deer found in Juniata County was reported to be lethargic and lying against a building by a land owner in Greenwood Township. It was euthanized and tested positive for the disease. The other deer that tested positive was roadkill in Perry County.

DMA 3 has expanded by 203 square miles and now covers more than 1,119 square miles, due to the discovery of CWD in a captive deer facility in Clearfield County. The captive facility will remain under quarantine for five years from the date the positive test was confirmed. DMA 3 now includes all or parts of Armstrong, Clarion, Clearfield, Jefferson and Indiana counties.

The largest number of new CWD cases were detected in Bedford (65), Fulton (33) and Blair (10) counties.

No changes will be made to DMA 4, which was established in February 2018 due to the discovery of CWD in a captive deer facility in Lancaster County. To date, no free-ranging deer have tested positive for CWD in DMA 4. DMA 4 covers 364 square miles and includes parts of Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties. For the most up-to-date maps and descriptions of DMA boundaries, visit www.pgc.pa.gov.

The Game Commission will continue to offer Deer Management Assistance Program opportunities within portions of DMAs. Hunters can purchase up to two DMAP permits for each DMAP unit. Each permit allows for the harvest of one antlerless deer and permits can be used during any open deer season — including the antlered-only firearms deer season.

DMAP permits can be used only within the DMAP unit for which they are issued. Because DMAP units within DMAs might encompass a mix of private and public land, hunters with DMAP permits, as always, should know where they’re hunting and that they have permission to hunt there. Hunters are encouraged to submit deer heads for CWD testing. Samples submitted by hunters help the Game Commission understand the prevalence and distribution of the disease in the local area.

CWD first was identified in Colorado in 1967. CWD since has been detected in 26 states and three Canadian provinces. CWD is a fatal brain disease that affects members of the cervid family including deer, elk and moose.

Misfolded proteins called prions are believed to be the culprit of CWD. Prions are shed through saliva, urine and feces of infected animals.

On average, infected animals don’t display symptoms for 18 to 24 months. Symptoms include lowered head and ears, weight loss, excessive drooling, rough-hair coat, uncoordinated movements, and, ultimately, death. There is no cure or treatment for CWD.

To date, CWD has not been found to infect humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people avoid eating meat from CWD-infected animals.

Hunters are prohibited from exporting high-risk parts from DMAs.