No. 1 – What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Through the end of deer season, we will be posting a frequently asked question (FAQ) and answer related to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania in an album on our Facebook page.

We know many of you – hunters, non-hunters, processors, taxidermists and more – have questions about CWD and the effects this disease can cause. We are here as a resource and want to help everyone understand the complexities and details related to CWD in our state.

If you have a specific question related to CWD, email

Here’s the question for week one:

CWD Fact 1


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always-fatal neurodegenerative disease of cervids including deer and elk. CWD is a type of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy disease, other TSE diseases include mad cow disease, scrapie, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The causative agent of TSE diseases is an abnormally folded protein or prion. As these prions accumulate in the brain, they begin to cause tissue damage, eventually leading to holes in the brain.

CWD can be transmitted directly (through animal-to-animal contact) or indirectly (through a contaminated environment). CWD prions can be shed through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. CWD was first detected in 1967 in a captive deer facility in Colorado. Since then, CWD has spread to 25 states and three Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania.

Click here for more information.

As a reminder, if you have a specific question related to CWD email it to


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