As of this week, the Department of Natural Resources reported six deer have tested positive for the fatal virus known as CWD in Maryland.
CWD, chronic wasting disease, has been found in six whitetail deer in Maryland, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The deer were all harvested from the CWD Management Area in Allegany County during the regular firearms season. The first case of CWD in Maryland occurred in 2011 and the second in 2014.
The fatal disease attacks the brain and spinal cord of deer and elk, and although there is no official cause, it’s believed to be a prion disease. According to DNR, a prion is an altered protein that causes other proteins to become altered resulting in sponge-like holes in the brain. The disease is passed to other animals though saliva, urine, and feces.
“Chronic Wasting Disease has become firmly established in the region since it was initially found in West Virginia in 2005. The Department has followed this outbreak closely and has been prepared to find additional infected deer in Maryland. We have sampled intensively for this disease since 2002 and see this as an unfortunate but inevitable outcome. We will continue to manage CWD with the best available science to minimize the impact on our deer population and the people who enjoy these great animals,” said Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service, in the report.
Six out of 8,300 deer tested in Maryland since 1999 showed positive evidence of CWD. Since 2010, officials have been focusing their testing in Allegany and western Washington Counties, resulting from a presence of the disease in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
DNR insists there is no evidence the disease can be transmitted to humans, livestock, or other animals. Hunters should avoid contact with the brain, lymph nodes, and spill columns of deer and elk just to be safe.