Ohio Confirms First CWD Case in Wild Whitetail Deer



The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has identified a positive test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a wild Ohio whitetail deer in Wyandot County.

The adult male deer was taken by a hunter on private property, ODNR says, and is the first confirmed case of CWD discovered in the wild deer population in the state. Tissue samples were submitted for testing by a taxidermist and the positive test was identified after results were obtained on Thursday, December 10.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects whitetail deer and other similar species, including mule deer, elk, and moose. Its symptoms include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness and other neurological problems. The disease is fatal, and there is no known treatment or vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

There is no strong evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans, ODNR says citing the CDC.

The Division of Wildlife will implement its CWD response plan, which includes enhanced surveillance within a 10-mile radius of the CWD positive deer location in Wyandot County. Mandatory deer disease sample collection will occur on all remaining Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area controlled hunts. Hunters who harvest a deer in Wyandot County during the remaining deer hunting season, which closes on Sunday, February 7, 2021, will be contacted to obtain disease samples by Division of Wildlife staff.

“Once introduced into an area or farm, the CWD protein is contagious within deer and elk populations and can spread quickly. Experts believe CWD prions can remain in the environment for a long time, so other animals can contract CWD from the environment even after an infected deer or elk has died.”

As I mentioned before, this is the state’s first positive CWD case since Ohio’s Division of Wildlife began testing for the disease in 2002. Since then, more than 25,000 tests have come back negative with no findings in local herds. And then 2020 happened.

To be clear, though, the disease has been prevalent in deer breeding facilities in Ohio for several years.

In 2014, OutdoorHub reported on a case of CWD found in a captive deer in Holmes county.

Hunters are advised to practice standard safety measures such as wearing rubber gloves when field-dressing game, avoid taking deer that appear to be sick, and informing wildlife officers if they see deer that show symptoms of CWD. Otherwise, officials encourage hunters to enjoy the remainder of their deer season.

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