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Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal brain disease of deer and elk that is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Animals infected with CWD show progressive loss of weight and body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, depression, loss of muscle control and eventual death. Chronic wasting disease is always fatal for the afflicted animal. The disease cannot be diagnosed by observation of physical symptoms because many big game diseases affect animals in similar ways. The origin and transmission of this disease among deer and elk is not well understood.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain.

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Maps Showing Locations of Positive CWD Tests

OTHER CWD WEBPAGES