The Pennsylvania Game Commission is advising hunters to take precautions during the state's deer seasons in light of the state's first case of chronic wasting disease.
State officials on Thursday confirmed the first positive case of the disease on a deer farm in Adams County.
“Pennsylvania hunters should remember that chronic wasting disease has not been found in free-roaming deer, but we are recommending hunters follow the same precautions we advise they follow every year,” Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said.
Chronic wasting disease is fatal in deer, elk and moose. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence the illness can be transmitted to humans, but the Game Commission advised hunters to take the following precautions:
- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the Game Commission if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick;
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses. Each year, the agency encounters one or two deer harvested by hunters that is rabid;
- Bone out the meat from your animal;
- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues;
- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing is completed;
- Don't consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field-dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will help remove remaining lymph nodes.
Deer that are infected would suffer from weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling and depression. The disease is fatal and there is no known treatment or cure.
Archery deer season is already underway. The week long muzzleloader season begins Saturday. The deer rifle season will begin the first Monday after Thanksgiving.