Chronic Wasting Disease Not Detected in Deer Population

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New Hampshire's deer population once again showed no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), based on monitoring data gathered during the 2005 hunting season. New Hampshire Fish and Game Deer Biologist Kent Gustafson recently received results from a federally certified veterinary diagnostic laboratory which indicate that all the deer tissue samples taken during last fall's hunting season tested negative for CWD.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder that is fatal to white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. The World Health Organization has concluded that there is no evidence that people can become infected with CWD.

During the fall 2005 deer hunting season, New Hampshire Fish and Game collected heads from hunter-killed deer across the state for testing. A total of 402 tissue samples were tested. The monitoring is part of a nationwide effort to identify areas with CWD; as a result of these efforts, more than 1,400 deer have been tested in New Hampshire since 2002.

Chronic wasting disease was first identified in 1978 and remained isolated in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska for about a decade. CWD has been found as far east as New York and West Virginia, bringing the disease far closer to New Hampshire's borders than ever before. To date, CWD has been detected in wild or captive deer or elk in a total of 16 states and provinces. These include Alberta, Canada; Colorado; Illinois; Kansas; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; New Mexico; New York; Oklahoma; Saskatchewan, Canada; South Dakota; Utah; West Virginia; Wisconsin; and Wyoming. A nationwide effort is underway to prevent further spread. This effort includes collecting annual samples of deer tissue as part of ongoing monitoring and surveillance efforts and restricting the transport of potentially infected animals or tissues.

People who make hunting trips to the 16 CWD-positive jurisdictions listed above can help keep New Hampshire CWD-free by closely following the regulations on bringing home deer, elk or moose carcasses.

For example, you can bring back ONLY deboned meat, antlers, upper canine teeth and/or hides or capes with no part of the head attached. Antlers attached to skull caps or canine teeth must have all soft tissue removed.

While research continues, current information suggests that CWD is most likely transmitted by an abnormal protein present in the nervous system and lymphatic tissue of infected animals. These abnormal proteins are very stable and may persist in the environment for long periods, posing a risk to animals that come into contact with them.