What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Where has it been found


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer and elk. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death. The infectious agents are considered to be neither bacteria nor virus but rather are thought to be prions. Prions are considered to be infectious proteins without associated nucleic acids.


Where has CWD been found in North America?

View the USGS map for the most up-to-date locations of CWD in North America. 

Where has CWD been found in Michigan?

On August 25, 2008, CWD was confirmed in a captive 3-year-old white-tailed doe from a privately-owned cervid facility in Kent County. The owner sent the culled deer to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for required testing.

In April 2015, a female, six-year-old, free-ranging white-tailed deer in Ingham County was exhibiting symptoms consistent with CWD and was killed as part of an ongoing targeted surveillance. The deer was sent to DNR's Wildlife Disease Laboratory where collaborating with Michigan State University's Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, it was identified as "suspect positive." The deer was confirmed on May 20, 2015, as positive by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Since the discovery of CWD in the free-ranging deer population, numerous additional free-ranging deer were positively confirmed with CWD.  In addition, two white-tailed does were submitted for monitoring by a Privately-Owned Cervid (POC) facility in Mecosta County and were positively confirmed with CWD on January 17, 2017. 

For the latest testing numbers, and a listing of counties and townships where CWD has been found in free-ranging deer, please see the CWD Testing Status Update