Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an emerging infectious disease of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and moose of North America. The disease belongs to the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy or ?mad cow disease,? scrapie in sheep and goats, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. It is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system caused by alterations in normal cell proteins called ?prions?. There is no suggestion that the disease is transmissible to humans, but experts suggest that no products from animals known to be infected with any prion disease should be used for human consumption and that hunters avoid eating the nervous and lymphatic tissue from all cervids. The Surveillance and Response Plan for CWD in B.C. provides a framework for CWD technical and working groups (consisting of representatives from provincial, federal, and First Nations governments, as well as stakeholders at both the provincial and regional levels). The objectives of the Plan are: assess the risk of CWD for B.C.; guide the provincial CWD technical/regional working groups; provide management guidelines to prevent disease entry and to ensure early detection; provide recommendations for ongoing education and the early response and control actions in the event of an outbreak; present guidelines for appropriate communications and the dissemination of information in the event of a positive CWD diagnosis; and provide budget requirements. CWD is considered to be the most important issue in the management of free-ranging cervids in North America. The disease can reduce cervid population numbers and have major socio-economic effects. Experts recommend an aggressive regional and national approach to CWD management and research to prevent the spread of disease to CWD-free populations across Canada.
Garde, E.J., H.M. Schwantje. 2007. A Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease in British Columbia. Ministry of Environment