Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, and moose. CWD was first diagnosed in West Virginia in 2005, Virginia in 2009, Maryland in 2010, and Pennsylvania in 2012.

CWD is caused by abnormal infectious proteins called prions. Prions can pass between deer through saliva, feces, urine, and through water or soil contaminated with prions. For more information see the links below.

The potential impacts of CWD to the Virginia white-tailed deer population are a serious concern, though the disease has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans or domestic animals. Please see the CWD – Human Health section for additional information.  VDGIF is responsible for CWD surveillance and management in Virginia. The Department relies on assistance from hunters, taxidermists, processors, other agencies, and diverse constituent groups to implement surveillance.

CWD Snapshot – Updated 2/2018

Thank you to everyone who brought deer to a station or volunteered to staff a CWD check station in 2017! We sampled more than 1500 deer between October and January in Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Clarke Counties. DGIF would also like to thank the cooperating road-kill contractor and deer processors for their assistance.

2017 sampling efforts identified 16 new CWD-positive deer. 2 of these deer were in Shenandoah County and 14 were in Frederick County. As of February 2018, Virginia has diagnosed 38 CWD-positive white-tailed deer.

CWD was confirmed in Mississippi in February, 2018. CWD has now been found in 25 states and 2 Canadian provinces. For more information about this disease please see our links further down this webpage.

Managing CWD in Virginia

CWD Containment Area


Prion Diseases

Information for Hunters


CWD Questions and Answers


All images are the property of the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries.