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Cervid Program

deer in a field

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious, neurodegenerative disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. CWD is one of a family of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Other animal TSEs include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie in sheep and goats. CWD is caused by a misfolded naturally occurring protein, called a prion. Abnormal prion proteins are resistant to many disinfectants, chemicals and heat.

The disease is fatal and there is no treatment or vaccine available. CWD is a chronic disease where animals may appear healthy for months before developing clinical signs. Animals infected with CWD may show progressive weight loss, excessive salivation, lack of coordination, excessive thirst and urination and loss of fear of humans.

CWD is transmitted through direct animal to animal contact or contact with saliva, urine, feces or carcass parts of an infected animal. Infected animals can transmit the disease before showing clinical signs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not reported any cases of CWD in people. It is currently unknown if people can become infected with CWD prions. It is recommended to limit your exposure and to NOT eat meat from an animal that has tested positive for CWD.  Visit Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) | Prion Diseases | CDC for more information.

CWD is a reportable disease of captive cervids.

If you see a wild deer with signs of CWD, document the location of the animal and contact ODNR at 1-800-WILDLIFE.

 

CWD FAQs

 

WHAT IS CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE?
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious, neurodegenerative disease that has been found in deer, elk, and moose. CWD is one of a family of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs in animals include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie in sheep and goats.

WHAT CAUSES CWD?
CWD is caused by an abnormally folded, naturally occurring protein, called a prion. The misfolded protein accumulates in the lymphatic and neural tissues causing brain damage.

HOW IS CWD TRANSMITTED?
CWD is transmitted through direct animal to animal contact, contact with saliva, urine, feces or carcass parts of an infected animal or contaminated materials in the environment. Prions are extremely resistant to many enzymes, disinfectants, high temperatures and radiation. Prions can persist in the environment for years.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CWD?
CWD is a chronic disease where animals may appear healthy for months before developing clinical signs. Animals infected with CWD may show progressive weight loss, excessive salivation, lack of coordination, excessive thirst and urination and loss of fear of humans. Many signs and symptoms occur late in the disease process. Infected deer can shed prions before they are symptomatic.

IS CWD DANGEROUS TO HUMANS?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not reported any cases of CWD in people. It is not known if people can get infected with CWD prions. Therefore, it is important to limit human exposure. It is not recommended to consume an animal that has tested positive for CWD. Visit www.cdc.gov for more information.

HOW IS CWD DETECTED?
CWD is detected post-mortem (after death) by testing the obex (brain) and the retropharyngeal lymph nodes in an approved laboratory.

WHERE HAS CWD BEEN DETECTED?
CWD was first detected in Colorado in 1967. The U.S Geological Survey reports that CWD has been detected in 30 states and continues to spread geographically.

IS CWD FOUND IN WILD WHITE-TAILED DEER IN OHIO?
Yes, CWD was first detected in wild white-tailed deer in 2020 and was detected again in 2021.

CWD Disease Distribution

CWD was first detected in 1967 in a mule deer in Colorado. It has now been detected in 30 states and continues to spread. CWD was detected in Ohio in captive deer in 2014 and in wild deer in 2020 and 2021. Visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the latest CWD test results in wild deer.

 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to manage the disease and protect both Ohio’s wild and captive populations.

CWD Herd Certification Program for Captive Cervids

 

All captive whitetail deer in Ohio are required to be registered or licensed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio has a nationally approved Herd Certification Program for captive cervids. The program is a cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). It is a voluntary program that is available to all cervid herds in the state. The goal of the program is to control the incidence and prevent the interstate spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The program has requirements for fencing, animal identification, inventory and movement records, inspections, reporting of escapes and CWD testing. All enrolled animals that are 365 days or older that die for any reason are required to be tested for CWD. The CWD testing provides essential disease surveillance information for Ohio. A participating herd will advance in status each year that it meets the program standards. After five years of CWD status, a herd achieves certified status and meets the CWD requirements for interstate movement. Interstate movement from only certified status herds reduces the risk of spreading CWD.

ODA Division of Animal Health works closely with USDA APHIS and cervid producers to have a successful program and a healthy captive cervid population.

For enrollment information, please contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health at 614-728-6220

Ohio CWD Herd Certification Fact Sheet

Forms

Captive White-Tailed Deer License/Registration

Status Herds Annual Inspection Form

Monitored Herds and Preserves Annual Inspection Form

Movement of Cervids 

CWD Testing

All captive whitetail deer and cervids enrolled in the herd certification program that die for any reason and are 365 days or older are required to be tested for CWD. Post-mortem (after death) testing at an approved laboratory is required to detect the disease. The only approved test for captive cervids is immunohistochemistry (IHC) of the obex area of the brainstem and the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is approved for testing of wild deer for CWD.

For more information on CWD testing and sample submission, please click here.

CWD Resources

Chapter 943 - Ohio Revised Code | Ohio Laws

Chapter 901:1-1 - Ohio Administrative Code | Ohio Laws

Chronic Wasting Disease (Deer) | Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ohiodnr.gov)

USDA APHIS | Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

USDA APHIS CWD Program Standards

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) | Prion Diseases | CDC

Expanding Distribution of Chronic Wasting Disease | U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov)