Yearly Archives: 2011

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Outbreaks and Surveillance Program in the Republic of Korea

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been recognized as an important prion disease in native North American deer and Rocky Mountain elk. The disease is a unique member of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which naturally affects only a few species. CWD had been limited to USA and Canada until 2000.

On 28 Dec 2000, information from the Canadian government showed that a total of 95 elk had been exported from farms with CWD to Korea. These consisted of 23 elk in 1994 originating from the so-called “source farm” in Canada and 72 elk in 1997 which had been held in pre-export quarantine at the source farm.

Based on export information of CWD-suspected elk from Canada to Korea, a CWD surveillance program was initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in 2001. All elk imported in 1997 were traced back; however, elk imported in 1994 were impossible to identify.

CWD control measures included stamping out of all animals in the affected farm and thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises. In addition, nationwide clinical surveillance of Korean native cervids and improved measures to ensure reporting of CWD suspect cases were implemented.

A total of 9 elk were found to be affected. CWD was designated as a notifiable disease under the Act for Prevention of Livestock Epidemics in 2002. Additional CWD cases — 12 elk and 2 elk — were diagnosed in 2004 and 2005. Since February 2005, when slaughtered elk were found to be positive, all slaughtered cervids for human consumption at abattoirs were designated as targets of the CWD surveillance program.

Currently, CWD laboratory testing is only conducted by the National Reference Laboratory on CWD, which is the Foreign Animal Disease Division (FADD) of the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS).

In July 2010, one out of 3 elk from Farm 1 slaughtered for human consumption were confirmed as positive. Consequently, all cervids — 54 elk, 41 Sika deer and 5 Albino deer — were culled, and one elk was found to be positive. Epidemiological investigation was conducted by the Veterinary Epidemiology Division (VED) of NVRQS in collaboration with provincial veterinary services.

Epidemiologically-related farms were searched for: 3 farms were found, and all cervids at these farms were culled and subjected to CWD diagnostic [testing]. Three elk and 5 crossbreeds (Red deer and Sika deer) were confirmed as positive at farm 2. All cervids at Farm 3 and Farm 4 — 15 elk and 47 elk — were culled and confirmed negative. Further epidemiological investigation showed that these CWD outbreaks were linked to the importation of elk from Canada in 1994 based on circumstantial evidence.

In December 2010, one elk was confirmed positive at Farm 5. Consequently, all cervids — 3 elk, 11 Manchurian Sita deer and 20 Sika deer — were culled, and one Manchurian Sika deer and 7 Sika deer were found to be positive. This is the 1st report of CWD in these sub-species of deer.

Epidemiological investigation found that the owner of Farm 2 in the CWD outbreaks of July 2010 had co-owned Farm 5. In addition, it was newly revealed that one positive elk was introduced from Farm 6 of Jinju-si Gyeongsang Namdo. All cervids — 19 elk, 15 crossbreeds (species unknown) and 64 Sika deer — of Farm 6 were culled, but all were confirmed negative.

No CWD Positive Deer Detected During Sampling Effort

Winter sampling is complete in southeastern Minnesota and none of 1,180 deer taken during the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) disease surveillance effort tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

“We looked hard and found nothing,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. “This suggests the infection rate is low, which is very good news.”

Landowners and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharpshooters took 752 yearling or older deer during the sampling. The DNR also tested 87 deer that died from vehicle collisions or other means.

The DNR initiated sharpshooting this winter following the discovery of a CWD-positive deer in November in the Pine Island area. Shooting permits for 315 landowners expired Feb. 28. USDA sharpshooting ended April 1. All laboratory tests were completed Wednesday, April 6. Most landowners kept the deer they shot. Deer taken by sharpshooters were donated to individuals who signed up to receive them.

Cornicelli praised local landowners for their cooperation in the surveillance effort. “They opened their lands. They shot deer. They helped in so many ways. We thank them for that and look forward to working with them in the future,” he said.

All sampling efforts took place within a 10-mile radius of where an archery hunter harvested the a CWD-positive deer in November. Thus far, it is the only wild deer to test positive for CWD in Minnesota.

Cornicelli said the removal of more than a thousand deer from the Pine Island area will minimize the potential for the disease to spread from animal to animal.

With the winter surveillance period over, DNR will begin planning for changes to this fall’s deer season in the area. Those plans will be announced later this spring but hunters can expect a new CWD management zone, mandatory sample submission, carcass transport restrictions, liberalized seasons and increased bag limits.

Details of these changes and other CWD information will be posted on the DNR’s website .

CWD is a fatal animal brain disease. The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans. The disease is found in 14 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

No CWD Detected in Arizona Deer and Elk Testing

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reports no detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in any of the 1,417 testable samples from hunter-harvested or road-killed deer and elk during Arizona’s 2010-11 hunting season.

Game and Fish has tested nearly 16,000 deer and elk samples since beginning its surveillance program in 1998. To date, none have tested positive for the disease. Although CWD has not yet been found in Arizona, it is present in the three neighboring states of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

“We remain steadfast in our sampling efforts in high-risk areas, nearly tripling the number of tested samples compared to last year in Game Management Units 1, 27 and unit 28 (areas bordering Utah and New Mexico),” said Anne Justice-Allen, DVM, wildlife health specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Another improvement to the program is easy access to test results. A web-based online system at you to enter your name, phone number, permit and hunt number to obtain results, rather than waiting for a mailed post card with those results.

“The online system is a great improvement to get individual test results out as quickly as possible,” said Justice-Allen. “This monitoring program is made possible by Arizona’s hunters, meat processors, and taxidermists who continue to provide the samples we need and we hope this new tool will make the process easier for them too.”

Each year, hunters who are successful in the Game Management Units bordering Utah and New Mexico, particularly Units 1, 12B, 27, and 28, are encouraged to submit heads for sampling because these units are closest to CWD positive areas. Arizona deer and elk from these areas have the greatest potential to have contact with an infected animal from these neighboring states.

While it is only mandatory to bring animals harvested from Units 12A East and 12A West to the Kaibab check station, hunters may also bring animals harvested from other units to the check station for CWD sampling during the regular hours of operation.

About CWD CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, which include deer, elk, and moose. Symptoms include loss of body weight or emaciation, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, stumbling, trembling, and behavioral changes such as listlessness, lowering of the head, and walking in circles or repetitive patterns.

No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD will cause disease in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

CWD was first identified in captive deer in Colorado in 1967 and has since spread to both captive and wild cervids in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. It is a naturally occurring prion disease belonging to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs are Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in domestic cattle and Scrapie in sheep and goats.

The department has had rules in place since 2002, which designate cervids as restricted wildlife and ban the importation of cervids in order to protect against the introduction of CWD to free-ranging or captive wildlife in the state (for details see R12-4-406 and R-4-430). Additionally, Game and Fish has a CWD Prevention, Detection, Response, and Management Plan that provides a logical process to manage issues related to CWD in Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will continue to work in close coordination with other state and federal agencies to monitor for CWD.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

Download update 101 (PDF)

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in a White-tailed Deer in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received laboratory confirmation on February 10, 2011 that a white-tailed deer harvested in Maryland tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). This is the first confirmed case of CWD in Maryland. A hunter in Allegany County reported taking the deer on November 27, 2010 in Green Ridge State Forest. Maryland is now one of 21 other states and Canadian provinces with CWD documented in deer, elk or moose.

“Our team of wildlife professionals has been preparing for this result for some time so we are well-informed and ready to limit the impact of this event,” said Paul Peditto, Director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “We have sampled intensively for this disease since 2002 and see this as an unfortunate but somewhat inevitable outcome. The good news is that our preparation and planning ensure a sound scientific foundation for our response to this single positive test result. With the continued cooperation of hunters, farmers, deer processors and landowners who have supported our monitoring effort, we will manage this deer disease consistent with the best available science and with minimal impact on our deer population and the people who enjoy these great animals.”

“Concerns over CWD should not stop anyone from enjoying venison,” added Peditto, who explained that only four species of the deer family are known to be susceptible to CWD: elk, mule deer, moose and white-tailed deer. Of these, only the white-tailed deer occurs in the wild in Maryland and there are no reported cases of transmission to humans or other animals.

As always, hunters are advised to exercise caution and never consume the meat of sick animals. Hunters are also advised to avoid contact with the brain, spinal column or lymph nodes of deer — all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.

This is the first positive sample out of nearly 6,800 deer tested in Maryland since 1999. From 2002 until 2009 that sampling occurred statewide. In 2010, sampling efforts were focused on Allegany and western Washington counties due to the presence of positive cases in nearby West Virginia and Virginia. West Virginia first detected CWD in Hampshire County in 2005 and it was found in Frederick County, Virginia in early 2010.

“Maryland will continue to work closely with the wildlife professionals in our adjacent states to share information and coordinate response efforts. However, our primary goal is to ensure the public is fully-informed and knows what we know when we know it. We want to be certain that every interested Marylander understands this disease and recognizes that there is no risk to people, pets or domestic livestock. As in every other state with CWD, we will respond appropriately while ultimately learning to live with this disease with little impact to our wildlife or citizens,” Peditto concluded. For more information on CWD in Maryland and the DNR Response Plan, please visit the DNR Website