Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in cervids


chronic, wasting, cervids, surveillance, risk, introduction, spread
First published in the EFSA Journal
18 January 2017
2 December 2016
9 February 2017. This version replaces the previous one/s.
The following changes were made: (i) the following sentence was added to p. 22: “However, Tg mice expressing ovine PrP challenged with CWD have resulted in highly efficient, life-long asymptomatic replication of these prions in the spleen tissue, with brain involvement at late stage (Béringue et al., 2012)”; (ii) the reference to Béringue et al., 2012 was added to the Reference list and (iii) wapiti was added to the top of p.21. These changes do not materially affect the contents or outcome of this scientific output. To avoid confusion, the older version has been removed from the EFSA Journal, but is available on request, as is a version showing all the changes made.
Scientific Opinion

In April and May of 2016, Norway confirmed two cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild reindeer and a wild moose, respectively. In the light of this emerging issue, the European Commission requested EFSA to recommend surveillance activities and, if necessary, additional animal health risk-based measures to prevent the introduction of the disease and the spread into/within the EU, specifically Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden, and considering seven wild, semidomesticated and farmed cervid species (Eurasian tundra reindeer, Finnish (Eurasian) forest reindeer, moose, roe deer, white-tailed deer, red deer and fallow deer). It was also asked to assess any new evidence on possible public health risks related to CWD. A 3-year surveillance system is proposed, differing for farmed and wild or semidomesticated cervids, with a two-stage sampling programme at the farm/geographically based population unit level (random sampling) and individual level (convenience sampling targeting high-risk animals). The current derogations of Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/1918 present a risk of introduction of CWD into the EU. Measures to prevent the spread of CWD within the EU are dependent upon the assumption that the disease is already present; this is currently unknown. The measures listed are intended to contain (limit the geographic extent of a focus) and/or to control (actively stabilise/reduce infection rates in an affected herd or population) the disease where it occurs. With regard to the zoonotic potential, the human species barrier for CWD prions does not appear to be absolute. These prions are present in the skeletal muscle and other edible tissues, so humans may consume infected material in enzootic areas. Epidemiological investigations carried out to date make no association between the occurrence of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans and exposure to CWD prions.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Antonia Ricci, Ana Allende, Declan Bolton, Marianne Chemaly, Robert Davies, Pablo Salvador Fernández Escámez, Rosina Gironés, Lieve Herman, Kostas Koutsoumanis, Roland Lindqvist, Birgit Nørrung, Lucy Robertson, Moez Sanaa, Panagiotis Skandamis, Emma Snary, Niko Speybroeck, Benno Ter Kuile, Giuseppe Ru, Marion Simmons, John Threlfall and Helene Wahlström.
Panel on Biological Hazards
biohaz [at]
EFSA Journal 2017;15(1):4667 [62 pp.].
Question Number
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European Commission
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