Chronic Wasting Disease, (CWD), also known as Cervid Wasting Disease, is a highly infectious, fatal disease which has devastated some populations of wild and farmed deer in North America. CWD has very recently been diagnosed in Scandinavia in a reindeer and also in moose. The risk of CWD entering the UK is therefore likely to have increased now the disease is present in Europe.
CWD is caused by a prion, a mutant folded protein, and belongs to the same group of diseases as scrapie, which affects sheep and goats, and “mad cow disease”, (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “BSE”). This group of diseases are known collectively as “transmissible spongiform encephalopathies” or “TSE’s”, CWD is the most infectious of these, the name suggests a body sickness but it is actually degeneration of the brain and central nervous system which is the main symptom. There is no evidence to suggest that it causes disease in people, or other species of animal.
CWD Key facts:
- CWD is fatal in any infected deer
- CWD is highly infectious and persists in the environment
- There are currently no treatments or vaccines available to control the disease
- All efforts to control the spread of CWD in the USA/Canada have so far failed and it is probably now
- Preventing CWD from entering the UK is currently the only effective control measure
The prion is transmitted in deer body fluids and body parts including urine, faeces, saliva and several tissues in infected carcases. The prion can remain infectious in the environment for up to twenty years as it binds to the surface of soil particles and for several years on stainless steel. It defies normal farm disinfection and even some standard autoclave disinfection processes. Animals may take 18-24 months to exhibit clinical signs and they become increasingly infectious to others over time. CWD is a Notifiable Disease and suspicion of the disease in any animal must be immediately reported to your local APHA Animal Health Office which can be found by using the Post Code search facility in the website.
CWD is a Notifiable Disease and suspicion of the disease in any animal must be immediately reported to your local APHA Animal Health Office which can be found by using the Post Code search facility in the website.
A downloadable leaflet is available for distribution.