Ohio Confirms First Case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Local Wild Deer

by Jon D. B.

The Ohio Department of Resources is reporting the first positive test for chronic wasting disease. CDC guidelines instruct not to eat any game that has contracted CWD, deer or otherwise.

Wyandot County, just northwest of Columbus, Ohio, is host to the first confirmed-positive case. The tested specimen comes from a deer shot on private property by a hunter. Unfortunately, chronic wasting disease will now affect all white-tailed deer harvested in the state, either directly or indirectly.

ODNR reports their findings after a tissue sample submitted by a local taxidermist produced the positive result on December 10th.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is cause for concern to both wildlife conservationists and hunters/sportsmen alike. The fatal neurological disease transmits from, and affects, white-tailed deer and other closely related species. Mule deer, elk, and moose are also susceptible to CWD, according to the ODNR.

Once infected, symptoms of the disease include drastic weight loss, or wasting, most prominently. Other signs of infection include stumbling and similar signs of neurological deterioration.

As stated, the disease is unfortunately fatal. There is still no known treatment or vaccine on file with the Centers for Disease Control.

ODNR reaffirms there is no strong evidence that Chronic Wasting Disease is transmissible to humans. The Centers for Disease Control does, however, warn not to consume meat from any animal testing positive for the disease. To this end, the CDC details:

“Strongly consider having the deer or elk tested for CWD before you eat the meat. If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, consider asking that your animal be processed individually to avoid mixing meat from multiple animals. If your animal tests positive for CWD, do not eat meat from that animal.


CDC Further Details Chronic Wasting Disease

Moreover, the CDC details the infectious nature of CWD in order to better educate those coming into contact with local deer or other Cervidae (hoofed animal) populations.

On how chronic wasting disease spreads, CDC states that “once introduced into an area or farm, the CWD protein is contagious within deer and elk populations and can spread quickly. Experts believe CWD prions can remain in the environment for a long time, so other animals can contract CWD from the environment even after an infected deer or elk has died.”

As a result, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is implementing an immediate response plan. The plan includes mandatory disease sampling from all game, alongside “enhanced surveillance within a 10-mile radius of a positive case,” according to local Fox 19 News.

The positive CWD case comes as the state’s first since Ohio’s Division of Wildlife began testing for the disease in 2002. Since then, more than 25,000 tests have resulted negative with no findings in local herds until 2020. The disease has, however, been detected within deer breeding facilities in Ohio, Fox 19 clarifies.

Outside of Ohio, chronic wasting disease has been found in four Canadian provinces, and 26 U.S. states total since its discovery in the 1960s. The first case from a wild deer followed in 1981. A decade later, the disease began spreading in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.

Ohio’s findings come as the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission extends its own hunting season for whitetail deer in six districts after citing high rates of chronic wasting disease.