Disease spreads in Franklin County deer

Written by Jim Hook/Chamberburg Public Opinion | May 16, 2017 1:55 PM

The Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to expand DMA 2 in Franklin County. (Photo: File / The Daily News)

(Chambersburg) -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to expand the disease management area in Franklin County after finding chronic wasting disease in wild deer and on deer farms outside DMA 2.

The eastward expansion will include the area around the captive facility in Franklin County where a CWD-positive deer was detected. The expanded boundaries for DMA 2 are not yet final.

Special regulations for DMAs aim to reduce the risk of spreading CWD. Transporting deer carcasses, feeding deer and using urine-based deer lures are restricted.

Twenty-five of the 1,652 samples from white-tailed deer collected in 2016 tested positive for CWD, according to Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau. The positives included 13 road-killed deer, 10 hunter-harvested deer and two deer showing signs of CWD. Just 12 deer in DMA 2 tested positive for CWD from 2012 to 2015.

There is no evidence that CWD is can be transmitted to humans or traditional livestock, but the consumption of meat from CWD-positive animals in not recommended. CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy disease similar to mad cow disease in cattle, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and scrapie in sheep and goats. The disease leaves microscopic holes in the brain.

During late 2016 and early 2017, CWD was identified on three captive deer farms in Bedford, Fulton and Franklin counties. They were the first detections of CWD-positive captive deer within DMA 2. In 2016, no CWD-positive wild deer were detected in DMA 1, DMA 3 or the remainder of the state.

Since 2002, the Game Commission has tested over 61,000 deer for CWD. No positives have been detected in Pennsylvania elk. During 2016, 110 wild elk and 5,707 deer were tested for CWD.

DMA 1 includes parts of Adams and York counties in which CWD was identified on a captive deer farm in 2012.

DMA 2 includes Warren Township in Franklin County and parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria and Huntingdon counties where CWD has been identified in wild deer since 2012 and recently on three captive deer facilities. A four-year-old deer raised on a Fulton County deer farm and sold in August to a hunting preserve in Franklin County tested positive for the disease after it was harvested in November.

DMA 3 is in Jefferson and Clearfield counties where CWD was detected on two captive deer facilities in 2014.

CWD is transmitted by animal-to-animal contact and through food and soil contaminated with bodily excretions -- including feces, urine and saliva. Contaminated carcasses or high-risk carcass parts may also spread the disease indirectly through environmental contamination, which last for decades.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

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