How to Detect CWD in Deer: A Quick Guide

How to Tell If a Deer Has CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer and other members of the deer family. It is important for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to be able to identify the symptoms of CWD in order to help prevent its spread and protect the health of the deer population. In this article, we will discuss how to tell if a deer has CWD.

1. Observe Behavioral Changes

If you notice any abnormal behavior in a deer, it may be a sign of CWD. Look out for the following symptoms:

Behavioral Changes Description
Excessive Salivation Deer may produce excessive amounts of saliva, leading to visible drooling.
Reduced Interaction Infected deer often exhibit reduced social interaction with other deer.
Weight Loss Deer with CWD may experience significant weight loss over time.
Abnormal Walking Look for unsteady or wobbly movements, as CWD affects the deer’s coordination.

2. Physical Symptoms

In addition to behavioral changes, there are also physical symptoms that may indicate a deer has CWD:

  • Emaciation: Infected deer may appear abnormally thin and weak due to muscle wasting.
  • Blank Stare: The eyes of a deer with CWD may have a dull, vacant, or glassy appearance.
  • Excessive Drinking: Deer affected by CWD may consume large amounts of water more frequently.
  • Poor Coordination: Look for stumbling, tripping, and uncoordinated movements.

3. Clinical Signs

If you come across a deer carcass or a hunting opportunity, look for the following clinical signs:

Clinical Signs Description
Emaciation and Rib Visibility Severe weight loss, prominent ribs, and visible bones are noticeable indications.
Enlarged Mandibular Lymph Nodes Lymph nodes located under the jaw may appear enlarged or swollen.
Lesions in the Brain Affected deer may have brain lesions visible upon autopsy.

4. Seek Professional Assistance

If you suspect that a deer may have CWD, it is essential to contact your local wildlife agency or a veterinarian who specializes in wildlife diseases. They have the knowledge and resources to confirm the presence of CWD and take necessary measures to contain the disease. Do not attempt to handle or approach a potentially infected deer.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Detect Cwd In Deer: A Quick Guide

How Does Chronic Wasting Disease (cwd) Affect Deer?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease that affects deer’s brains, causing weight loss, abnormal behavior, and eventually death.

Can Humans Get Sick From Cwd In Deer?

Although there have been no scientifically confirmed cases of CWD transmission to humans, it is recommended to avoid consuming meat from infected deer to reduce the potential risk.

What Are The Signs Of Cwd In Deer?

Deer with CWD may show symptoms such as emaciation, excessive salivation, repetitive walking in set patterns, and blank facial expressions.

How Is Cwd Diagnosed In Deer?

Diagnosing CWD in deer is done through postmortem analysis of brain tissues. Laboratory tests can detect the presence of prions, the proteins associated with the disease.


Identifying the symptoms of CWD in deer is crucial for effective management and prevention of the disease. Be vigilant while observing any behavioral changes, and look out for physical symptoms and clinical signs mentioned in this article. Remember to seek professional assistance if you suspect the presence of CWD. By taking these precautions, we can collectively work towards safeguarding the health of the deer population and combating the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

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