FWC Testing Deer Found In North Escambia For Chronic Wasting Disease

March 7, 2023

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is testing a deer found in North Escambia for the possibility of chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD has never been found in Florida.

The deer was discovered last week by a local resident along North Pineville Road near Tullis Road, in extreme northwestern Escambia County, Florida. The deer showed signs of extreme weight loss and was approachable.

FWC officers responded and retrieved the deer.

“Testing deer for CWD is critical to monitoring the threat of this contagious, fatal deer disease from spreading into or throughout Florida. The only reliable method for diagnosing CWD is by testing brain stem tissue or lymph nodes from dead animals,” Melissa Smith, FWC Northwest Region public information director, told NorthEscambia.com on Monday. “The deer was humanely killed for CWD testing.”

Initial testing for chronic wasting disease can take several weeks to receive results. Time is also needed to collect the samples and prepare them for testing at a laboratory in Florida,” she said.

The deer is not an immediate cause for alarm — about 150 deer that appear sick are examined by FWC across Florida each year.

“Finding a deer that appears sick isn’t uncommon, as there are multiple causes of deer mortality in Florida,” Smith said, stressing that CWD has not yet been found in Florida. FWC has performed surveillance on nearly 17,000 white-tailed deer for CWD since 2002.

The FWC educates hunters, landowners and the public about CWD and asks that anyone who sees a sick, abnormally thin deer or finds a deer dead from unknown causes call the toll-free CWD hotline, 866-CWD-WATCH (866-293-9282) to report the location of the animal.

Chronic wasting disease or CWD is a contagious disease of the brain and central nervous system that is always fatal to deer.

Currently, there is no scientific evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans under natural conditions. However, the CDc does not recommend consuming meat from animals that test positive for CWD or from any sick animal.

Signs of the disease usually appear 1.5 to 3 years after initial exposure so deer can be infected and infectious to others, but look normal. Typically, CWD is characterized by extreme weight loss and abnormal behaviors such as listlessness, lowering of the head, inattentiveness toward people, walking in circles, staggering, and standing with a wide stance. Death usually occurs within four months of the onset of clinical signs, although some animals may survive for up to a year. CWD is always fatal once a deer is infected.

CWD has been found in captive and/or free-ranging members of the deer family in 30 states, including Alabama.

Pictured: This deer, found along Pineville Road in North Escambia, was retrieved by FWC and is being tested for chronic wasting disease. Exclusive photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.


8 Responses to “FWC Testing Deer Found In North Escambia For Chronic Wasting Disease”

  1. Susan on March 8th, 2023 6:59 am

    To date, there is no evidence dogs
    can become infected with CWD
    However, it is best to avoid feeding
    brain and spinal cord tissues from
    killed game to dogs. Studies have
    demonstrated that CWD prions can
    be excreted in the saliva, urine and
    manure of infected animals.

  2. Jr on March 7th, 2023 8:17 pm

    @ Sad and Sad Too…here in the last month/month and a half there is always more deer seen hit by vehicles. The White tail mating season (The Rut) happens during that time frame and the deer are moving more than normal during that time which leads to more vehicle/deer collisions. I’ve seen several act this way AFTER the Rut but it’s odd/rate to see one in this condition. Before we panic snd explode this very interesting and well informed article into a White Tsil pandemic let’s see what the results of the testing are. Yes, this CWD is real and it’s in states near us but I pray this is not the case. I know of some hunting clubs that are changing their methods to help curtail the spread of this horrible disease.
    Me? I’m waiting on the results.

  3. Sad too on March 7th, 2023 3:47 pm

    The reason there are more deer hit on the road is because there is astronomically more cars on the road.

  4. Jeff on March 7th, 2023 2:01 pm

    Sure hope it’s not CWD that would be a major blow to the deer population I guess we’ll know when the results come back praying for the best

  5. Sad on March 7th, 2023 12:44 pm

    I’ve seen a couple deer like this over the last 20 years or so in the North Escambia area. A starved deer that doesn’t run away from people is a telltale sign. I wonder if this illness could cause an increase in the number of deer being struck on the highways. I recently counted over a dozen laying along the side of Hwy 97. Very sad.

  6. Swamp Gas on March 7th, 2023 9:37 am

    Folks. This can be some seriously devastating stuff to our local deer population. Let’s all hope that this is not the case.

  7. EP on March 7th, 2023 9:19 am

    I saw this deer that day, between the morning when I went by and 9 hours later it had only moved about 100 feet. In the morning it appeared to be on its front knees on the ground. you could tell something is bad wrong.

  8. Dee on March 7th, 2023 8:46 am

    Can dogs catch this disease?