Chronic wasting disease, a transmissible encephalopathy, has been identified in two wild deer in Oneida County, New York. This news came shortly after the identification of five cases of CWD in farmed deer herds in the same county, which is located in the central part of the state (see JAVMA, May 15, 2005). New York is the first state east of Illinois to have animals identified with the disease.
The wildlife cases were discovered through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's intensive monitoring efforts that were put into place after the disease was identified in captive herds.
In response to the wildlife cases, the DEC filed emergency regulations regarding the handling, transport, and management of deer in the state to prevent further spread of the disease in the wild. For example, the regulations prohibit the movement of certain animal parts out of a containment area established in and around Oneida County, and establish mandatory checkpoints for deer hunters in this area. They also include a number of provisions to be followed by individuals and facilities across the state. Implemented on April 29, the emergency regulations will be effective for 90 days. The DEC is in the process of developing permanent regulations.
At press time, the DEC, along with the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program, had tested 317 wild deer in central New York as part of its investigation and had not identified any further cases of CWD in the wild. Investigators were still trying to determine the source or sources of the disease in the state. Since 2002, the DEC has collected more than 3,700 samples from wild white-tailed deer.