Three deer killed by hunters during the 2012 firearms season have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced Friday.
Two of the deer were shot in Blair County, and the other was killed in Bedford County.
The cases mark the first time that chronic wasting disease has been found in Pennsylvania's wild deer. The state's first case in October was in a captive deer on an Adams County deer farm.
Chronic wasting disease is a degenerative brain illness that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. The disease is fatal to the animals, but there is no evidence it can be transmitted to humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The World Health Organization.
The Game Commission said the disease was detected in tissue samples it collected during annual deer aging field checks. The agency is working to identify the hunters who shot the deer to confirm where the animals were killed.
"The three CWD-positives were part of 2,945 deer sampled for the disease statewide," Game Commission executive director Carl Roe said. "To date, we have received test results from 1,500 samples, including these three positive samples. Results from the remaining samples should be available in the next few weeks."
More then 2,000 additional deer were tested in a disease management area in Adams and York counties, established after the discovery of the disease on the deer farm in New Oxford. Roe said chronic wasting disease was not found in any of those deer.
The discovery may prompt changes to hunting regulations, but no decisions have been made. The Game Commission has scheduled a news conference for Monday at 2 p.m.
Chronic wasting disease was first discovered in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967. It has since been detected in 22 states and Canadian provinces, including New York, West Virginia and Maryland.
Pennsylvania has been testing deer for the disease for 15 years.