Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals.
It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep.
The first CWD case has hit home in Maryland, a white-tail deer harvested in the state tested positive for the chronic wasting disease.
A hunter in Allegany County reported taking the deer on November 27, 2010 in Green Ridge State Forest. Maryland is now one of 20 other states and Canadian provinces with CWD documented in deer, elk or moose.
Though this strange disease is contagious among deer and elk, it’s not contagious for humans, cattle and other domestic livestock. The cause scientists say is from prions, infectious proteins without associated nucleic acids.
The director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service, Paul Peditto, said “this should not stop anyone from enjoying venison.
Our team of wildlife professionals has been preparing for this result for some time so we are well-informed and ready to limit the impact of this event.”