A Dover area property was quarantined on Thursday after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed the state's first case of Chronic Wasting Disease at a farm in Adams County.
The department said a white-tailed deer at 1491 New Chester Road in New Oxford tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, which is fatal in deer, elk and moose.
Because that deer once lived at the former Rutt Acre Whitetails farm on Pickett Road in Washington Township, the York County property was quarantined this week.
"As far as I know, they're just taking precautions," said Bryan Rutters, owner of the property.
The state Department of Agriculture posted a sign on the property, indicating no animals are allowed on or off the premises.
Rutters said the affected deer was last on his property in 2011, when he used it for breeding purposes.
He hasn't had any deer on the property in months and is no longer breeding, he said.
Though the sick deer was on local soil last year, it hasn't been determined where it became ill.
"We can't speculate where it acquired (the disease)," said Dr. Craig Shultz, state veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The deer could have acquired the disease anytime since birth, he said.
There is no evidence the disease can be transmitted to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Along with the York and Adams County properties, the state department quarantined a Lycoming County farm in Williamsport because it was directly associated with the affected deer, a state spokesman said.
"Pennsylvania has an aggressive Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance program and a strong response plan," said George Greig, state agriculture secretary. "Steps are being taken to prevent further spread of this disease to the state's captive and wild deer populations."
Wild deer? Chronic Wasting Disease has not been found in Pennsylvania's wild deer population, according to Carl Roe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
"Concerns over CWD should not prevent anyone from enjoying deer hunting and consuming meat from healthy animals," he said.
Roe advised hunters to shoot only healthy-looking animals, wear rubber gloves when field-dressing their deer and wash thoroughly when finished, according to a news release.
Though human disease has not been associated with Chronic Wasting Disease, the CDC said people and animals should not eat any part of an animal diagnosed with or showing signs of the wasting disease.
The disease - which attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose - produces lesions that eventually result in death.
How to spot it: Signs include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, abnormal behaviors, stumbling, trembling and depression.
It's a very slow disease, with a 16- to 60-month incubation period and a gradual decline, Shultz said.
"The animal can live for some time before they succumb," he said.
There's no known cure for Chronic Wasting Disease and it is transmitted by animal-to-animal contact through saliva, feces and urine.
Though Thursday marked the first case of the disease in Pennsylvania, Chronic Wasting Disease has previously been detected in neighboring states Maryland, New York and West Virginia.
For more information, visit the state Department of Agriculture website at www.agriculture.state.pa.us or the website for the Pennsylvania Game Commission at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
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