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NWDP - Chronic Wasting Disease

Image of deer in a field

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) infects cervids (elk and deer), but is not known to infect other wildlife, livestock, or humans. Chronic wasting disease belongs to the family of diseases known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies. The causative infectious agents are abnormal proteins called prions. There is no known treatment, and the mode of transmission is not well understood.

Chronic wasting disease has been found in North America, Norway, and South Korea. The distribution in North America has been increasing and as of April 2022 it has been detected in 30 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces in free-ranging cervids and/or commercial captive cervid facilities.

Affected Species

To date there have been no reported cases of CWD transmission from animals to people. CWD belongs to a family of prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) that cause rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans and animals. They are distinguished by long incubation periods, characteristic spongiform changes associated with neurologic loss and failure. For additional information on CWD including prevention and general precautions for hunters and others handling potentially infected cervids please see the CDC website below.

In the United States, CWD is known to infect a variety of wild species, including:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Mule deer
  • Black-tailed deer
  • Elk
  • Moose

NWDP Activities

Since 2020, the U.S. Federal Government has appropriated funds to further develop and implement cervid CWD surveillance, testing, management, and response activities, including further development and evaluation of techniques and strategies to prevent or control CWD in cervids. This funding is awarded to State Agencies, federally recognized Native American Tribal governments and Tribal organizations through a competitive process utilizing Cooperative Agreements. The Veterinary Services (VS), Cervid Health Program administers these funding opportunities for farmed cervids and the NWDP administers these funding opportunities for wild cervids. For additional information regarding these funding opportunities, please see the website's below.

More Information

NWDP Coordinator

Julianna B. Lenoch, DVM, MPH
Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine 
(970) 266-6056
USDA/APHIS/WS4101 Laporte Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Avian Health | Chronic Wasting Disease | Bovine Tuberculosis | Feral Swine | Plague | RHDV2 | SARS-CoV-2 | SERS

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