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Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first discovered in Colorado in 1967 and in Nebraska in 2000 (Kimball county). Since 1997 we have tested about 48,000 deer and found 286 that tested positive. CWD is now found in 27 counties, some as far east as Grand Island; in 21 states and two Canadian provinces. While questions remain, most hunters have adjusted to CWD on the landscape. For more information on CWD, visit the CWD Alliance web site

What you should know:

  • CWD is prion disease that attacks the brain of an infected deer and elk, eventually causing emaciation, listlessness, excessive salivation and death. Infection rates in harvested animals in some deer management units exceed 6% but there have been no population declines in Nebraska attributed to CWD at this time.

  • Human health concerns for CWD remain modest as no person is known to have contracted CWD from eating an infected deer. However, given the number of human deaths in Europe linked to “Mad Cow Disease” (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), we should remain cautious in how we handle, process and consume deer. Hunters and commercial processors should avoid any butchering or processing of deer spreads spinal cord or brain tissue to meat or to the environment.

  • Deer health concerns remain a primary concern and hunters can help prevent the spread of CWD by using proper carcass disposal methods. CWD prions can remain viable for months or even years in the soil. We advise hunters to field dress animals at the place of kill and to dispose of the head (brain), spinal column and other bones at a licensed landfill.

  • While the exact method of CWD transmission is unknown, we know that CWD is transmitted from animal to animal. In all probability the transmission is through body fluids like feces, urine, or saliva. Animals that are crowded or confined have a greater chance of encountering the body fluids of other animals and, therefore, a higher likelihood of becoming infected if CWD prions are present.

Counties with CWD reported:

Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Buffalo, Cherry, Cheyenne, Custer, Dawes, Deuel, Furnas, Garden, Grant, Hall, Hitchcock, Holt, Hooker, Keith, Kimball, Lincoln, Loup, Morrill, Phelps, Red Willow, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux, Webster. Click on the image below to access the map.

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - 2200 N. 33rd St. Lincoln, NE 68503 - 402-471-0641

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