CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At least for the moment, West Virginia's chronic wasting disease problem appears to be staying put.
Sixteen more Eastern Panhandle deer tested positive last fall for the rogue protein that causes CWD, but none of the 16 was killed outside the area known to contain the disease.
Jim Crum, deer project leader for the state Division of Natural Resources, said all of the deer that tested positive were killed by hunters during the state's buck firearm season.
"We collected [tissue] samples from 672 deer in Hampshire and Hardy counties, and from those we got the 16 positives," he said. "None of the animals that tested positive were showing any symptoms of the disease. They were carrying the abnormal [protein], but they weren't sick."
By plotting the kill locations of all the CWD-positive deer they encounter, DNR biologists have been able to determine how prevalent the disease is and how widely it is distributed.
The prevalence hasn't changed a lot, but the disease has become slightly more widespread every year since 2005, when the first case was discovered near Slanesville.
"We have had movement out from the Slanesville area, but we haven't had any big jumps," Crum said.
When a deer tests positive, Crum and his colleagues draw a one-mile-radius circle around it on a map. By totaling up the areas of all the circles, they calculate the total area where the disease has been confirmed present.
"That area has increased a little bit every year, but so far the increases have been slight," Crum said.