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Introduction and General Information

Until recently CWD was considered to be localised to certain parts of Colorado and Wyoming. More widespread infection was indicated first by finding the disease in farmed elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni - Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus elaphus - Red deer)) in Saskatchewan in 1996 and South Dakota in 1997, and then during the period 2000-2002 by the diagnosis of the disease in farmed elk in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana and Kansas in the USA, Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada, and even in Korea (in an elk imported from Canada). Also during 2000-2002 CWD was diagnosed in free-ranging deer in Nebraska, Saskatchewan, areas of Colorado outside the previously-recognised "CWD-endemic area", Illinois, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin. (D110.w1, P10.67.w1, J40.66.w1, J64.21.w17)
  • The wide geographical range of CWD in North America, and the recognition that it has been moved between states by transportation of elk between farms, has shown clearly that there is a need for the disease to be dealt with on a national basis, not just by individual states. (D110.w1)
    • "Undetected spread via trade of infected animals will probably continue until uniform surveillance programmes are adopted and enforced." (J64.21.w17)
  • Cooperative management should be undertaken where populations of infected cervids span jurisdictional boundaries such as state lines, federal lands and tribal lands, whether the boundary-crossing is a seasonal or a year-round situation. (D126)
  • "In states where statutory and regulatory responsibility for managing disease in captive or free-ranging deer and elk is shared with state agriculture agencies, continued cooperation between the two agencies is encouraged to ensure comprehensive and successful CWD management." (D126)
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National Control Planning

The following are desirable and required for effective management of CWD on a national basis:

In farmed cervids:

In free-living cervids:

"Detailed population or herd plans appear critical to successful long-term management of CWD." (D126)
  • Adequate surveillance of cervids of susceptible species;
  • Accepted requirements (surveillance level and time for which surveillance has been carried out) for an area to be considered CWD-free;
  • Accepted criteria to consider an area as endemic or recently-infected 
  • Accepted strategies for management of an area to contain the disease, or for elimination of the disease from that area, as appropriate.
  • Restrictions on movement of live animals (translocation) from areas where CWD occurs.
  • Recommendations/regulations for carcass transportation: adoption of recommendations/regulations for carcass transportation that are as uniform and consistent as possible between states would avoid confusion and minimise conflict of regulations between states. (D126)


Education and Communication:

  • If management strategies, including surveillance, are to be carried out effectively it is important to ensure:
    • Effective and continuing communication between the various Federal and State agencies responsible for disease management in captive and free-ranging cervids;
    • Education of personnel working in Federal and State agencies responsible for disease management in captive and free-ranging cervids, people involved in the consumptive and non-consumptive utilization of wildlife, decision makers at all levels, and the general public regarding CWD and the measures required to manage the disease.




  • At this time there is still much that it not known or understood about CWD.
    • Further research is required to provide a greater understanding of the disease, its natural host range and ecology, how it is transmitted and how it is likely to affect infected populations.
    • Contingency plans need to be sufficiently flexible to allow for alteration as scientific knowledge progresses.(D114.IV.w4)

    (D110.w3, D114.IV.w4, D118, D124, D126, J40.66.w1)

The following suggestions for areas of research which need to be addressed is taken directly from D110 - Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Wild and Captive Cervids:

  • Action Item 1: Evaluate existing diagnostic tests for accuracy and utility; improve accuracy, speed, and capacity of diagnostic tests, and establish a standardized yet flexible national sampling protocol for testing; develop tests that provide early detection of disease; develop a live animal test that is cost effective and can be applied in the field; and assess the feasibility of tests for environmental contamination.

  • Action Item 2: Conduct research into the biology and pathology of CWD. Prioritized needs include: 1) describing the pathogenesis of CWD; 2) determining if different strains of CWD infect different cervids; 3) determining which species are susceptible to CWD, including cattle; 4) determining the routes of exposure, the rate of transmission, and the amount of agent needed to cause infection; 5) investigating the contribution of genetics to CWD susceptibility among cervid populations; and 6) developing prophylactic or treatment measures for both captive and free-ranging susceptible cervids.

  • Action item 3: Conduct research into disease management and host ecology. Prioritized needs include: 1) developing and enhancing models of CWD dynamics; 2) evaluating host population dynamics and dispersal and social behavior in relation to transmission; 3) developing a GIS that can elucidate patterns of disease–host population characteristics; 4) evaluating the effectiveness of CWD control or eradication strategies; 5) studying the ecological effects of reducing deer and elk populations in CWD affected areas; 6) determining persistence of the CWD agent in the environment; 7) developing methods to inactivate the CWD-agent in the laboratory and in the field; 8) correlating disease prevalence to cervid density; and 9) conducting research on methods of carcass disposal.

  • Action Item 4: Conduct research into the human dimensions of CWD. Prioritized research needs include: 1) determining the attitudes, perceptions of risk, and information needs of affected human communities; 2) determining landowner and hunter willingness to participate in disease management programs; 3) determining the impact of CWD and CWD management on the economy and the social fabric of human communities; and 4) assessing communication and education strategies.

(D110 - Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Wild and Captive Cervids - Text copied Directly)


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Authors & Referees

Authors Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Suzanne I Boardman BVMS MRCVS (V.w6), Chris Brand (V.w52), Dr Terry Kreeger (V.w49), Dr Julie Langenberg (V.w50), Bruce Morrison (V.w48), Michael Samuel (V.w53), Scott Wright (V.w54)

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