Chronic wasting disease not found among Florida's deer
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Media contact: Tony Young, 850-488-7867
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) has not found any evidence of chronic wasting
disease (CWD) after extensive testing of the state's white-tailed
The FWC tested 400 free-ranging deer during the
past year and more than 4,600 deer during the past eight years,
with no CWD-positive results.
"While we can never say that Florida is entirely
free of the disease without testing every deer, this sample size
gives us confidence that if CWD is present in Florida, it is at low
levels," Dr. Mark Cunningham, the FWC's wildlife veterinarian,
said. "However, even low numbers of CWD-positive deer would be
cause for concern, so we plan to continue testing for the
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that has
been found in captive and wild mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose
and Rocky Mountain elk within several Western states and more
recently, Eastern states. The disease causes degeneration of
the brains of infected animals, resulting in emaciation, abnormal
behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
Virginia and West Virginia are the only
Southeastern states where CWD has been detected.
To reduce the chances of CWD entering Florida, the
state prohibits importing live deer unless they come from a herd
that has been certified CWD-free for five or more years.
Additionally, importation of any species of deer, elk or
moose carcasses, with the exception of cleaned skull caps, antlers,
tanned hides and deboned meat, is prohibited from 18 states and two
Canadian provinces where CWD has been detected.
Chronic wasting disease has been detected in
Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South
Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and
Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Visit the CWD Alliance
website, www.cwd-info.org, for the most up-to-date CWD
"Early detection is the key to limiting the spread
of the disease, if such an outbreak should occur in Florida,"
Once again this hunting season, the FWC is turning
to hunters and other members of the public for assistance in
helping monitor the state's deer herd for CWD.
"We're asking hunters to report any sightings of
sick or emaciated deer, or deer dead of unknown causes," Cunningham
said. "If you see such a deer, do not handle it, but contact
us as soon as possible, toll-free, at 866-CWD-WATCH
(293-9282). Wildlife biologists will respond, and if
necessary, collect deer tissue for testing."
CWD WATCH is part of an aggressive monitoring
program to ensure CWD is not already in Florida and the disease
does not spread into this state.
There is no evidence that CWD poses a risk for
humans. However, public health officials recommend avoiding direct
contact with any sick-looking deer or one that has died from
More information about CWD surveillance in Florida
is available at MyFWC.com/CWD. The website also offers links
to wildlife and health agencies with more in-depth information
about the disease.