Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Deer and Chronic Wasting Disease - What do we Know

We have been hearing a lot about Chronic Wasting Disease in the news lately.  This disease has the possibility to completely change deer and deer and deer hunting in Pennsylvania.  The disease has not been shown to impact humans but we are still advised to have deer tested and to not eat positive infected animals.

Some news has recently surfaced, actually the results are a couple of years old, that the prions, or folded proteins, are symptomatic of a spiroplasma bacteria infection and not the actual cause of the disease.  We will have to wait and see if this is actually the case.  If so, the potential for a vaccine could be in the future.

Below is a time series map provided by the LSU Ag Center showing the presence of states and provinces with CWD detections in wild or captive cervids.

Below is a link to an article from the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab by Dr. Krysten Schuler.  In this article Dr. Schuler lays out the evidence why prions are implicated in all transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases, including CWD.

Prion Hypothesis for CWD: An Examination of the Evidence
February 21, 2019

I also wanted to share with you the position statement of the Quality Deer Management Association. As of February 28, 2019 they still follow the prion theory for the cause of the disease.  "Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is caused by prions, and the scientific evidence is overwhelming. While it’s important to explore all potential solutions to this serious challenge, the spiroplasma theory is not new and has been thoroughly examined for years without verification. Nothing could be better news for deer hunters than the discovery of a cure for CWD, but the recent promises that a cure is coming soon have no basis in verified science."

The Centre Daily Times recently posted an excellent summary article. I provided a link to that article below.  In it, the author, Mark Nale, interviews Duane Diefenbach, the Leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State to get his take on the situation.

Read more here:

Chronic Wasting Disease Continues to Spread Among PA Deer
February 23, 2019

We will have to wait and see what the research tells us in the future.  Hopefully we can find a way to stop this awful disease impacting our state mammal and potentially our elk herd. In the mean time I encourage everyone to review and follow the recommendations of the PA Game Commission as we try to figure this out.  We need to work together to stop the spread of this disease.

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