Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance

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The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is requesting assistance from deer hunters with the Department's chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance efforts. The Department will be collecting about 550 deer heads for CWD testing from a 1,190 square mile area including most of western Shenandoah County, western and northern Frederick County, northern Clarke County, and western Loudoun County.

Department staff will be collecting heads from hunter-killed deer for CWD testing at select check stations on Saturday, November 12 (the first day of the western early muzzleloading season) beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the check stations listed below.

In Clarke County, the Department is planning to sample 75 deer heads from that area north of Highway 50. The participating game check station is J & J Corner, 4192 Harry Byrd Highway in Berryville.

In Frederick County, the Department is planning to sample 190 deer heads from that area west of Interstate 81 and north of Highway 50. The participating game check stations are Cather's Market, 2765 Northwestern Pike, and Crossroads Grocery, 119 Cedar Grove Road. Both are in the Winchester area.

In Loudoun County, the Department is planning to sample 170 heads from that area west of Highway 15 and north of Highway 50. The participating game check stations are Aldie Country Store, 39285 John Mosby Highway in Aldie, and Waterford Shell, 40636 Charlestown Pike in Paeonian Springs.

In Shenandoah County, the Department is planning to test tissue from 120 deer heads from the area west of Interstate 81 and north of Highway 263. The participating check stations are Larkin's Grocery, 19004 Senedo Road, near Edinburg, and Graden's Supermarket, 6836 John Marshall Highway, in Lebanon Church.

Staff will continue accepting deer heads until an adequate sample is obtained. If adequate samples are not obtained on November 12, Department staff will work additional dates as needed and additional notices will be sent to local newspapers.

The only way to make a definitive CWD diagnosis is to examine the brain and lymph nodes in a laboratory. There is no certified live-animal test. Testing is for CWD surveillance only and is not a screening for the safety of meat for human consumption. No testing technique can assure 100 percent accuracy for CWD diagnosis, and "not detected" test results do not exclude the possibility of low levels of the causative agent being present in deer.

Hunters will be able to check the CWD test results for their submitted deer heads on the Department's Web site. Results should be available in approximately 20 to 30 working days after collection. There is a possibility that not all deer heads will be submitted for testing, and that some submitted samples will not have valid test results returned. If this occurs, an explanation for why there are no test results for a submitted deer head will be provided on the Web site.

Hunter participation in the Department's CWD surveillance efforts is very important. By submitting their deer heads for testing, hunters will enable the Department to more quickly and more effectively monitor the area for the presence of CWD.

According to Department Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jonathan Sleeman, "Due to the high risk related to a concentration of captive deer facilities in adjoining states in the northern Virginia area, we were already planning to conduct CWD testing in the region this fall. That effort will still take place, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation, using road-killed deer. However, as a result of the recent finding of CWD in West Virginia, we are planning to supplement our road kill samples with samples from hunter-killed deer."

CWD was reported in a deer in Hampshire County, West Virginia, 10 miles from the western border of Frederick County, Virginia, in early September. In subsequent testing of approximately 190 deer by West Virginia, an additional three CWD positive deer were found within two miles of the original CWD case.

Dr. Sleeman noted that, "Concerns over CWD are no reason not to enjoy the upcoming deer season." Persons who have questions or need additional information about CWD should visit the Department's Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov/cwd.