Chronic wasting disease has been found in two more midstate counties, prompting the state Game Commission to expand a special management area.
Testing found 123 cases of the destructive brain disease during the 2018 hunting season. That's up from the previous year's 79 cases.
Since the first Pennsylvania instances were discovered in 2012, the majority of the 250 chronic wasting disease cases in the state's wild deer population have been found in Bedford, Blair, and Fulton counties.
But a few cases in Perry and Juniata counties last year spurred the Game Commission to expand its Disease Management Area 2 more than 2,300 square miles.
"We had a couple of positives this year that were pretty great distances from any previous positives that we've had. One in Perry County and one in Juniata County," said Courtney Colley, a chronic wasting disease communications specialist with the Game Commission.
DMA 2 now includes all or parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.
The commission also expanded DMA 3 by 203 square miles because of a chronic wasting disease case found in a captive deer facility in Clearfield County. It now includes all or parts of Armstrong, Clarion, Clearfield, Jefferson and Indiana counties.
DMA 4, which includes parts of Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties, remained the same.
Hunters in a management area have to follow some additional rules: they can't feed deer in the area or use natural urine-based lures. They also can't take some parts of the deer out of the designated zone.
"Individuals who hunt within the disease management area but live outside of the disease management area; they have to remove the high-risk parts prior to going home, basically," Colley said.
High-risk parts of the deer are the brain, eyes, tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, and spinal cord.
Chronic wasting disease has not spread to species outside the deer family.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people do not eat deer that test positive for the disease.
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