In a call to State public health and agriculture officials throughout the U.S. today, FDA announced that the Agency will not permit material from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)-positive animals, or animals at high risk for CWD, to be used as an ingredient in feed for any animal species. Animals considered to be at high risk for CWD would include animals from CWD-positive captive herds, free ranging animals from the endemic area in Colorado and Wyoming, deer from the eradication zone in Wisconsin, and deer from any areas designated around any new foci of CWD infection that might be identified through surveillance or hunter harvest testing. FDA stated that animal feed or feed ingredients on the market that incorporate this material should be recalled or otherwise removed from the marketplace.

CWD is a neurological (brain) disease of farmed and wild deer and elk that belong in the cervid animal family. The disease has been found in farmed and wild mule deer, white-tailed deer, North American elk, and in farmed black-tailed deer. CWD belongs to a family of animal and human diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle; scrapie in sheep and goats; and classical and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases (CJD and vCJD) in humans. TSEs are very rare, but are always fatal. Although CWD shares certain features with other TSEs, it is a distinct disease. There is no known treatment for these diseases, and there is no vaccine to prevent them. In addition, there are no validated diagnostic tests for CWD or other TSEs that can be used to test for the disease in live animals or humans.

Only deer and elk are known to be susceptible to CWD by natural transmission. However, there is little scientific evidence to show whether CWD is or is not a hazard to humans or non-cervid animals such as cattle and pigs. Therefore, FDA believes it is prudent that CWD-positive deer and elk not be used in animal feed. During the call to State health and agriculture officials, FDA announced that the Agency plans to issue a Compliance Policy Guide on this issue at a later date.