Chronic Wasting Disease

white-tailed-deer-buckChronic 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. 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 4/2017

Thank you to everyone who brought deer to a station or volunteered to staff a CWD check station in 2016! We sampled more than 1500 deer between October and January in Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Clarke Counties.

2016 sampling efforts identified 9 new CWD-positive deer in Frederick County. 2 were killed by vehicles and the other 7 were killed by hunters. All of the hunter-killed animals were in the early stages of the disease and did not display any outward symptoms of infection. As of March 2017, Virginia has diagnosed 22 CWD-positive white-tailed deer.

All hunters who harvest deer within the CWD Containment Area (CA) on the first two Saturdays of the general firearms season must bring their deer to a CWD check station for testing.

Beginning in 2015, and continuing into 2017, the CWD Containment Area includes all of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, and Shenandoah counties.

CWD has been found in 24 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.