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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is highly infectious and has devastating effects on both wild and farmed deer. BDS is campaigning hard, along with other organisations, to keep CWD out of the UK by promoting awareness of the issue at border control points.

We encourage visitors to the UK to be vigilant about the cleanliness and biosecurity of outdoor equipment. While the highest risks appears to be with those engaged in sporting shooting, anyone hiking or camping in infected areas has the potential to bring back infection on dirty boots, clothes or equipment. 

Please see below for regular updates on this issue.

Sept 17 - What is the risk of a cervid TSE being introduced from Norway into Great Britain? Qualitative Risk Assessment - pdf Read Report (1.40 MB)

10.7.17 - Chronic Wasting Disease – The situation in America, Norway, and the UK - pdf Read report (224 KB)

8.6.17 -  pdf CWD update (462 KB)  -  pdf Click here (462 KB)

20.4.17 -  CWD Research News – DNA Samples Required for new BDS CWD Research Project

The EU has determined that a pan European EU surveillance system to monitor deer populations to detect any fresh cases is required. One of the most significant questions is how susceptible are our deer to CWD? Will they succumb rapidly, or slowly?

The BDS is engaging in a new research project to perform DNA typing of deer found in Britain to establish the extent of their susceptibility to CWD. This will assist with “modelling” how CWD might develop in the UK should it ever arrive.

The analysis of samples has begun but we need some fresh samples of certain species from certain distinctly differing populations before August 2017.

Can you help? If you are interested in engaging in the project please register with John Bruce. The sample species, areas and numbers of samples required are listed in the document below.

   pdf View full document (196 KB)


4.7.16 - New BDS Leaflet aimed at preventing the spread of CWD.

The British Deer Society has launched a new leaflet aimed at hunters and sporting agents containing important recommendations to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The updated advice replaces previous guidance and follows an increase in risk level to the UK with the announcement of three cases of the disease in Norway. CWD has previously mainly been found in North America. Sporting agents, hosts and guides are urged to make sure all guests to the UK are aware of the risks and take steps to ensure that their equipment is suitably clean to minimise the risk of spreading the disease. All those visiting areas at risk of infection, especially for hunting purposes, must appreciate that it is almost impossible to thoroughly sterilise potentially contaminated kit and clothing so are strongly encouraged to consider leaving behind or disposing of what cannot be completely sanitised.

  pdf View the press release 4.7.16 (117 KB)

  View the Chronic Wasting Disease leaflet 4.7.16

18.6.16 - New BDS Report on CWD

  View a new BDS report: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalitis (TSE) of deer - An overview of the situation from the UK perspective 

Supporting information

1.9.16   An article explaining the scientific advances in analysis of prions causing BSE
8.7.16    pdf The Law about Deer Urine 8.7.16 (9 KB)
Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance  - An Alliance of organisations with latest information & mapping from the US - visit their website
2014 +  pdf Useful information on CWD from the US

(61 KB)

CWD in Norway

A Spongiform Encephalopathy, referred to as Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, was diagnosed in a free-ranging reindeer from southern Norway in March 2016 by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute who are monitoring the reindeer herd.

Please see below for regular updates on this issue.

16.11.17 - Update on CWD in Scandinavia: CWD found in a new species in Norway

According to Norwegian news sources, since April 2016, about 25,000 wild cervids in Norway have been tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Seven wild reindeer from the mountains of south-central Norway, and 3 moose, 300-400 km east of the reindeer, near Swedish border, have been found to be infected with CWD. A single red deer also appears to be positive; and it was 200 km from the reindeer area and 200-300 km from the moose cases. So there now appear to be at least 3 distinct foci of CWD in Norway.

The prions from reindeer cases are similar to North American CWD, and may have been imported with biological products. The type of prion found in the moose has never been seen before and may be a spontaneous mutation. Typing of the red deer variant is pending. Based on known migratory routes of moose, there is a high likelihood of CWD spreading to Sweden, if that has not already occurred.

6.4.17 - 
 CWD in Norway – a state of emergency for the future of cervids (Phase II) - Report from The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) 

  pdf Read synopsis by John Bruce (331 KB)

   pdf Read full report (2.07 MB)

Dec 16 - CWD update from Norway - 5th case and further news

  pdf Read the full article (83 KB)

2.9.2016 - Norway reports a fourth case

A fourth deer has been diagnosed in Norway - a male 6 year old reindeer has been found relatively close to the first reindeer casualty on plateau.

The 300 reindeer which were lightning strike victims were sufficiently close to the CWD cases that sampling of adults was undertaken and no infected animals were found. Continuing CWD sampling of culled animals will be undertaken through the hunting season.

14/06/2016 - Norway reports a third case

Norway reports the diagnosis of a third case, a second moose, (moose f2), a pregnant cow found in a river near to moose f1, also confirmed TSE. Scientists have, for scientific reasons, named these initial cases in Norway as “Cervid Wasting Disease” as they are the first cases in a new species, one hopes that the use of multiple names does not cause confusion, they are all TSE.

09/06/2016 – New DEFRA Publication - Cervid Spongiform Encephalopathy in Norway

The report looks at the coincidences of these two cases in different species 450 km apart in Norway but finds no correlation nor evidence of connection. The report states that Norway will implement a ban on the trade of live cervids, which will include exportation; which is a relief.

25/05/2016 - The Norwegian Veterinary Institute report

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute reports that Chronic Wasting Disease had been diagnosed by two different tests (ELISA and Western Blot) in a young adult, pregnant, female moose. The moose had shown abnormal behaviour and was in poor bodily condition.

The moose comes from a different area (Selbu municipality in Sør-Trøndelag, close to the Swedish border ) than the CWD case in the reindeer reported in Norway in April this year. The initial speculation that the case in the reindeer could have been a sporadic prion disease was ruled out by the confirmation of CWD by the OIE reference lab in Canada.
This is the second case of CWD demonstrated in Europe and the first in moose. It is very unfortunate and worrying and will certainly have huge consequences for hunting, surveillance and management.


08/04/2016 - DEFRA APHA Preliminary paper


07/04/16 – CWD Diagnosis in Norway

A Spongiform Encephalopathy, referred to as Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, was diagnosed in a free-ranging reindeer from southern Norway in March 2016 by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute who are monitoring the reindeer herd.

pdf Read full details (22 KB)