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Can we control Chronic Wasting Disease?

Pennsylvania stands at crossroads. Does the Game Commission continue current chronic wasting disease (CWD) management actions that are following trends seen in other states, or implement new actions to try to turn the tide?

To date, the percent of the deer population affected by CWD is following the pattern seen in West Virginia and Wisconsin (See figure below). If unchanged, 25 percent of the deer population could be infected with CWD in the next 10 years.

Deer infected with CWD chart

CWD is too serious to ignore. CWD is always fatal and there is no treatment. CWD reduces deer survival leading to reduced hunting opportunities and declining populations.

CWD is spreading to new areas annually. CWD prions remain in the environment for years and cannot be treated.

And although effects of CWD on people are unknown, history with related diseases (for example, Mad Cow Disease being transmitted to humans) demonstrates a need for action to minimize human exposure to CWD.

The agency is using research to explore ways to mitigate CWD in the Commonwealth.


Research launched in 2018 is looking at the social and biological implications of efforts to CWD.

The study area is located within Disease Management Area 2 (DMA2) where the first free-ranging deer infected with CWD were detected in 2012. This area leads the state in both number and concentration of CWD cases.

Disease Management Area 2 study area map

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Research objectives: