RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A deer taken by a hunter in Culpeper County tested positive for an incurable disease, the first Virginia case outside of the Shenandoah Valley.
The disease is called Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, which is found in deer, elk and moose across North America. It's a slow and progressive neurological disease that will ultimately result in the death of the infected animal.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says the buck was legally harvested in November, and a taxidermist, one of 50 across Virginia participating in a program to track CWD by collecting samples from deer they receive, submitted a sample in late January.
The hunter did not notice any signs of the disease at the time of taking the deer, which could include staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion and marked weight loss.
Because this deer was taken in an area more than 40 miles from where cases of CWD had been previously identified, DGIF conducted an extensive investigation to make sure it had been taken in Culpeper County.
Now the state agency is working with cooperating partners and members of the CWD Response Team to determine any appropriate measures.
Such measures may include changing regulations, enhancing CWD surveillance in Culpeper and the surrounding counties, and other methods to assess and manage the spread of the disease.
DGIF says additional surveillance efforts will be launched this fall that will use predominately hunter-harvested deer.
This past hunting season, taxidermists submitted more than 1,600 samples and the Culpeper case was the only one detected outside of Frederick and Shenandoah counties where CWD has been confirmed for several years.
DFIG also tests more than 1,550 deer from Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Shenandoah counties and found two cases of the disease in Shenandoah County and 26 in Frederick County.
A third case was found in Shenandoah County after a member of the public reported seeing an animal showing possible symptoms to DGIF, and officials confirmed the doe had CWD in April.
Regarding the Culpeper case, DGIF will be addressing community questions and concerns about the disease and the agency's planned management approach at a public hearing that will take place in late summer.
CWD has been detected in 26 states and three Canadian provinces.
Since 2009, 68 deer have tested positive for the disease in Virginia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is currently no evidence CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans, livestock or pets, but hunters are advised to test all deer harvested from known CWD-positive areas and to not eat any meat from animals that test positive for the disease.
For more information on CWD, click on the link in the Related Links box.