First case of chronic wasting disease found in Lancaster Co.

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Feb 14, 2018 6:55 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A devastating disease that affects deer has been found for the first time in Lancaster County.

The case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was found on a deer farm in West Cocalico Township as part of a routine testing program run by the state Agriculture Department.

CWD attacks the brain of an infected deer, slowly killing it.

Assistant State Veterinarian Kevin Brightbill says the farm is now under quarantine.

"There are precautions such as: nothing can leave the farm, nothing can be added the farm, there's enhanced biosecurity, every deer has to be tested," Brightbill said.

Brightbill says state and federal agencies are working to prevent this threat from spreading across Pennsylvania's deer population.

"Whether we're harvesting a deer in or outside the fence, we need to think about, specifically, those high-risk parts, making sure they're properly disposed of--in particular, not hauling them to other areas of the state where they could pose threat to other wild or captive deer," he said. 

Parts of the deer that are at high risk of speading the disease include the head and backbone.

There's no evidence CWD can be passed on to people.

CWD was first discovered in the commonweath in 2012, on a captive deer farm in Adams County. The disease management area (DMA) set up in response there was dissolved last year after continued testing found no cases in the wild.

Another DMA is currently in place in parts of Adams and Franklin counties.

This latest instance brings the total cases among captive deer to 46. Wild deer cases total 102. 

A spokesman for the state Game Commission says a DMA is being set up in Lancaster County and will likely be in place by the end of the month. That will trigger some restrictions for deer hunters in the future, such as not being able to use urine-based lures. The Game Commission will also set up drop boxes for hunters to dispose of high risk parts of their harvested deer, as they won't be able to take them out of the DMA. 

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