Challenges in managing the risks of chronic wasting disease

William Leiss*, Margit Westphal, Michael G. Tyshenko and Maxine C. Croteau

McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, University of Ottawa,
600 Peter Morand, Ottawa, ON, K1G 3Z7, Canada

Tamer Oraby

Department of Mathematics, University of Texas – Pan American, 1201 W University Dr.,
Edinburg, TX 78539, USA

Wiktor Adamowicz and Ellen Goddard

Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta,

Neil R. Cashman

Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver Coastal Health, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: This article summarises efforts at disease surveillance and risk management of chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of cervids and is considered to be one of the most contagious of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Evidence has demonstrated a strong species barrier to CWD for both human and farm animals other than cervids. CWD is now endemic in many US states and two Canadian provinces. Past management strategies of selective culling, herd reduction, and hunter surveillance have shown limited effectiveness. The initial strategy of disease eradication has been abandoned in favour of disease control. CWD continues to spread geographically in North American and risk management is complicated by the presence of the disease in both wild (free-ranging) and captive (farmed) cervid populations. The article concludes that further evaluation by risk managers is required for optimal, cost-effective strategies for aggressive disease control.

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