Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, and moose. CWD was first diagnosed in West Virginia in 2005, Virginia in 2009, Maryland in 2010, and Pennsylvania in 2012. In Virginia, CWD has been detected in Fauquier, Frederick, Clarke, Culpeper, Loudoun, Madison, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
CWD is caused by abnormal infectious proteins called prions. Prions can pass between deer through saliva, feces, urine, and through water or soil contaminated with prions. For more information see the links below.
The potential impacts of CWD to the Virginia white-tailed deer population are a serious concern, though the disease has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans or domestic animals. DWR is responsible for CWD surveillance and management in Virginia. The Department relies on assistance from hunters, taxidermists, processors, other agencies, and diverse constituent groups to implement surveillance.
During the 2020–21 deer hunting season, as part of DWR’s proactive statewide CWD surveillance effort, CWD was confirmed in a 2.5 year-old male deer harvested in Montgomery County. Please visit the DWR DMA3 website for details on how DWR is responding to this detection.