May 22, 2019 – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported today that 25 white-tailed deer sampled in Allegany and Washington counties during 2018 tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease found in deer and elk.
Twenty-two of the positive samples came from within the existing Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area while three samples came from Washington County Harvest Management Unit 251 adjacent to the current disease area.
The department has tested deer for chronic wasting disease since 1999, and more than 10,000 deer have been tested to date. A total of 561 samples were collected during 2018.
Chronic wasting disease was first confirmed in Maryland in February 2011. The Maryland cases appear to be from an outbreak in 2005 in adjacent West Virginia private lands. Since then, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have all documented chronic wasting disease in the region. The latest findings bring the number of positive cases in Maryland to 52.
“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, chronic wasting disease has continued to spread regionally and nationally,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Fortunately the disease has remained confined to deer and to a localized area in Maryland. The department will continue to use the best science available to minimize the impact on our deer population and the people who enjoy this valuable resource.”
Continued research confirms that this disease cannot be naturally transmitted to humans, so hunters and others who enjoy venison should continue to eat deer meat and to pursue their popular outdoor pastime. As a general safety precaution, it is recommended that people avoid consuming the meat of sick or infected animals as well as the brain, lymph nodes, or spinal column of any deer — all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.