Chronic wasting disease deer

A whitetail deer developing symptoms of chronic wasting disease.

Pennsylvania officials on Monday released a report detailing the response by state and federal agencies, and Pennsylvania researchers, to combat chronic wasting disease, a contagious, fatal disease that threatens deer.

The report outlines the status of the disease in Pennsylvania, as well as the work in progress to offer testing and other services to hunters, help deer farmers maintain their livelihoods, and diminish disease spread and environmental problems.

For example, the state is using new genetic testing tools to predict which deer will contract the disease.

The Report's Advice to Hunters to Minimize the Risk of Spreading the Disease

• Participate in testing. Free testing is available for any deer harvested in a disease management area, or DMA. If you harvest a deer, deposit the head, with your completed harvest tag affixed to the deer’s ear, in a head collection container.

• If you are hunting within a DMA, deposit high-risk parts from your deer in a high-risk parts disposal dumpster before you leave the area.

High-risk parts include the head, lymph nodes, spleen and spinal column. You may also dispose of any other unused deer parts in these dumpsters.

• Do not shoot, handle or consume an animal that appears sick; report the animal to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

• Wear gloves when handling any cervid carcass, and follow proper guidelines for processing venison.

• There is no evidence that chronic wasting can be spread to humans, but don’t eat high-risk organs such as the brain and hearts.

The report was compiled by Pennsylvania’s Chronic Wasting Disease Taskforce, which includes the state departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, and Health, as well as the Pennsylvania Game Commission and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Read the full report at


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