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More chronic wasting disease cases recorded

While the disease doesn’t hurt humans, it negatively impacts the deer population. NCWRC photo While the disease doesn’t hurt humans, it negatively impacts the deer population. NCWRC photo

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is confirming 13 new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from deer samples submitted since July 1, 2023.

This brings the total number of positive results in North Carolina to 24 since the disease was first detected in a Yadkin County deer harvested in 2021.   

Last fall, 36,146 samples were collected from wild cervids, and the NCWRC has received results from 98% of those samples. The 13 CWD-positive results this year came from counties where CWD-positive deer had been identified in previous years, Cumberland, Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties. Preliminary testing indicated CWD-positive results for one deer harvested in Johnston County and one deer harvested in Franklin County. Secondary testing, conducted through the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, later reversed results for those counties.  

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 Cervid Health Cooperator Program allows participating taxidermists and processors to collect samples from deer brought to their facilities. 

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. There is no vaccine, treatment or cure.  There is no USDA-approved live test for CWD, so effective surveillance methods require the testing of dead deer, primarily hunter harvests.    

Importation of whole carcasses of cervids (deer, elk, moose or reindeer/caribou) from any state, Canadian province or foreign country is prohibited. Anyone transporting cervid carcass parts into North Carolina must follow processing and packaging regulations, and carcass parts or containers of cervid meat or parts must be labeled and identified.  

For more information about CWD, including a chart with testing results to date, visit ncwildlife.org/cwd

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