Chronic Wasting Disease Not Detected in North Carolina’s Deer Herd

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 4, 2019) — After testing more than 3,000 harvested white-tailed deer during the 2018-19 season, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has found no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the state’s wild deer herd.  

Each year, Commission staff collect deer tissue samples across the state from hunters, meat processors, taxidermists, road-kills, and deer showing signs of disease. Commission staff keep track of each sample’s geographic location and submit the sampled tissue to Wisconsin Veterinarian Diagnostic Lab, a USDA approved laboratory, for CWD testing.

Hunters who submitted samples with their harvest authorization number can view CWD test results by clicking on “View My Past Harvests” on the agency’s Big Game Harvest Reporting webpage.

The Commission began testing for CWD in 1999, and increased surveillance after CWD was recorded east of the Mississippi River in 2002. The agency conducted systematic statewide surveillances in 5-year intervals beginning in 2003, with some opportunistic sampling occurring in years in between.  In 2018, biologists implemented a revised annual surveillance strategy to improve detection of CWD by increasing the number of samples collected and targeting sources, such as road-kill and older deer, where CWD is more likely to be detected. CWD has not been detected in more than 10,000 samples collected across the state to date. 

CWD is a transmissible, always fatal, neurological disease that affects deer and other cervids such as elk, moose and reindeer/caribou. Currently, 26 states and three Canadian provinces have documented CWD. In December, Tennessee found positive detections of CWD in white-tailed deer in Hardeman and Fayette counties, which border the Mississippi state line. With Tennessee’s detection of CWD within its borders, two states bordering North Carolina now have CWD in their deer herds. In Virginia, Shenandoah and Frederick counties, which border West Virginia, have confirmed cases of CWD.

“CWD is the single biggest concern for deer herds and deer hunting in North America,” said Jonathan Shaw, the agency’s deer biologist. “CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, due in part to past and current efforts to limit exposure of our deer and elk herds and environments to the infectious disease agent, prions.

“Despite these efforts, the risk of CWD entering the state cannot be eliminated, but the Commission is committed to protecting the State’s deer and elk herds with early detection being paramount to managing the disease if found in North Carolina.”

To learn more about CWD, visit the Commission’s deer diseases webpage.

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