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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance

Chronic wasting disease (CWD)) is a transmissible neurological disease found in deer, moose, reindeer/caribou, and elk populations. The disease is progressive and fatal.

CWD belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. Prions are proteins that convert the hosts’ normal cellular proteins into misfolded versions that produce small lesions in brains of infected animals. As a result, CWD causes weight loss and a decline in body control. To date, there are no reported cases of CWD in people, cattle, or other domestic livestock.

As of December 8, 2023, CWD was confirmed in privately-owned cervid facilities from the following counties: Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, and Newaygo.

Currently, to determine the presence of CWD, brain and lymph node samples are taken by an accredited veterinarian after an animal dies. These samples are then submitted for testing.

As part of their operations, all privately-owned cervid (POC) facilities in Michigan are required to submit samples. The number of samples that must be submitted depends on what specific program that a producer participates in: the Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Program (CWD HCP) or the Surveillance Program.

First, for the CWD HCP, all cervids 12 months of age and older that die for any reason must be tested for CWD.

Second, all facilities that are not a part of the CWD HCP must participate in the Surveillance Program. The Surveillance Program requires that all animals 12 months of age and older that die from illness, injury, or euthanasia due to illness or injury must be tested for CWD. In addition, 25% of cervids slaughtered, hunted, or culled must be tested. This number is calculated on an annual basis. In general, all facilities that have at least one death must test at least this one animal. 

Samples for either of these programs can be submitted to a private veterinarian or the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

For more information, contact the MDARD Cervid Program.