National Wildlife Health Center

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Wildlife Health Bulletin #05-01

To: Natural Resource/Conservation Managers
From: Leslie Dierauf, Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, John Fischer, Director, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
Date: May 2005
Title: CWD found in both free-ranging and captive deer in New York

On April 27, 2005 , the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the first documented case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the state of New York . The deer was an 11-month-old female taken in Oneida County in central New York . Subsequently, a 3-year-old female taken within 1 mile of the free-ranging index case also tested positive. The DEC media releases can be found at:

In early April, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) announced the detection of CWD in a captive cervid facility in Oneida County. The captive index case was discovered through surveillance activities conducted by the DAM. Two days later, the DAM announced that CWD had been detected in a second captive cervid facility, also in Oneida County . The second deer died expressing clinical signs of aspiration pneumonia; tissues were submitted for CWD testing as part of the state’s surveillance activities. It was determined that this animal had originated from the index facility.

The New York response plan includes: (1) depopulation of both positive captive cervid facilities in Oneida County; (2) quarantine (via movement of captive animals) of related captive facilities in New York; (3) intensive surveillance of free-ranging deer in the vicinity of the infected captive facilities; and (4) regulatory changes designed to reduce the risk of disease spread. Following depopulation and testing of the two captive facilities, a total of five captive animals (four from the index herd and a single animal from the second herd) tested positive for CWD.

The intensive surveillance plan calls for collecting about 420 free-ranging animals within a 10-mile radius of the infected captive facilities. To date, about 300 deer have been collected and submitted for testing at Cornell University.

While it is early in the investigation of these events, New York officials have documented several facts: (1) the owner of the index captive herd was also a wildlife rehabilitator, including white-tailed deer, and that wild deer were commingled with his captive herd and subsequently released back to the wild; (2) he was also a taxidermist, possibly having handled animals that originated in CWD-endemic regions in other states; and (3) he had recently sold captive stock to additional cervid farms within New York (the state has quarantined these herds).

Current Distribution of CWD in the United States From samples collected during the 2004 hunting seasons, CWD has been detected in several new locations in close proximity to the known range of CWD. The only significant extension to the documented range, prior to its discovery in New York , was a single case in Hall County , Nebraska , in which a hunter-harvested deer taken on the Cornhusker Wildlife Management Area tested positive for CWD. This case is about 250 miles east of the previously documented range of CWD within Nebraska.

The figure below depicts the current known distribution of CWD in both free-ranging (polygons) and captive (circles) cervids in the United States . CWD distribution in free-ranging cervids is displayed by county with one or more animals testing positive for CWD. The location of captive cervid herds is based on maps available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Additional information about CWD and CWD in New York can be found at:

New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

New York Department of Agriculture and Management (DAM)

New York State Department of Health

USGS CWD Web site

CWD Alliance

U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal CWD Web site

For additional information, contact Bryan Richards, USGS CWD Coordinator, at 608-270-2485. USGS WILDLIFE HEALTH BULLETINS are distributed to natural resource/conservation agencies to provide and promote information exchange about significant wildlife health threats in their geographic region.


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