A captive deer born on a farm in Lycoming County that eventually found its way to a farm in Adams County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease and the state Agriculture Department has placed a quarantine on the local farm until further notice.
There is no evidence since testing of the deer, elk and moose that the disease that is fatal in those animals species can be transmitted to humans, according to Dr. Craig Shultz, the veterinarian with the department.
The farm under quarantine is at 6464 Jacks Hollow Road. Owners of the farm were not identified by Shultz because, he said, the primary purpose of the department is to control the geographic area that the deer was in. A similar quarantine exists for a farm in York County.
The quarantine is an effort to prevent movement of animals on and off the premises, he said. The quarantine does not involve domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, he said.
When asked when the quarantine would be lifted, Shultz said it depends on the epidemiology. "Incubation is very long," he said. "We don't know when it became infected."
The animal has since perished of natural causes, he said.
News of the announcement of the confirmation of the first positive cases in the state had the interest of John Yingling, director of the Lycoming County Department of Public Safety who lives in nearby Limestone Township and has run past the farm.
Yingling said to the best of his knowledge the disease remains one for animals and is not spread to humans but he would still be forwarding a message, or routine advisory notice, to area fire and police departments.
The disease is fatal to deer, elk and moose, but no evidence in testing indicates it can be transmitted to humans, according to state Agriculture Secretary George Greig.
Jerry Feaser, a spokesman for the state Game Commission, said the disease has not been found in any wild deer populations tested since 1998.
More than 38,000 free-range deer and elk have been tested as part of the state Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force, he said. "All tests have been negative."
"Concerns over (the disease) should not prevent anyone from enjoying deer hunting and consuming meat from healthy animals," said Carl G. Roe, executive director of the state Game Commission.
Nevertheless, although no human disease has been associated with the deer disease, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., recommend people or other animals do not eat any part of an animal diagnosed with or showing signs of the deer-related disease, said Michael Wolf, acting secretary of the state Department of Health.
Signs in deer, elk and moose include weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination and abnormal behavior such as stumbling, trembling and depression. Infected deer and elk may also allow unusually close approach by people or natural predators.
The disease was first discovered in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967. Since then, it was detected in 22 states, including New York, West Virginia and Maryland. It also was found in Canada.