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Chronic Wasting Disease

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Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, and moose. The disease is caused by an abnormal infectious protein called a prion. Prions are transmitted to uninfected deer directly through saliva, feces, and urine shed by infected deer and indirectly as a result of soil contaminated with prions. The potential impacts of CWD to the white-tailed deer populations of Virginia are a serious concern, though the disease has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans or domestic animals at this point. The DWR leads Virginia’s CWD surveillance and management efforts  and relies on assistance from hunters, taxidermists, processors, other agencies, and diverse constituent groups to implement surveillance and management strategies.

Regionally, CWD was first detected in West Virginia in 2005, Virginia in 2009, Maryland in 2010, and Pennsylvania in 2012.  In Virginia, CWD has been confirmed in Carroll, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Floyd, Frederick, Loudoun, Madison, Montgomery, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Tazewell, and Warren counties. A summary of the DWR’s 2023–2024 deer hunting season CWD surveillance in the Disease Management Areas (DMAs) can be found below (as of April 2024).  In total, 71 CWD positive detections were found. Only one of those was found outside of a DMA (Tazewell County).

New for 2024–2025: Franklin, Roanoke, and Wythe counties have been added to DMA3. A new DMA, DMA4, has been established for Bland, Smyth, and Tazewell counties.

DMA Counties in DMA 2023-2024 Total Deer Tested for CWD CWD Detections Location of Detections
1 Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren 685 54 Clarke (6)

Frederick (40)

Shenandoah (6)

Warren (2)

2 Arlington, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock 3160 9 Culpeper (2)

Fauquier (2)

Loudoun (2)

Madison (1)

Rappahannock (2)

3 Carroll, Floyd, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski 1,449 7 Carroll (1)

Floyd (4)

Montgomery (2)

Non-DMA Statewide 2647 1 Tazewell (1)
CWD has four regions of observation in Virginia; two in the west and two in the northernmost regions of the state