Scientific opinion on chronic wasting disease (II)
The European Commission asked EFSA for a scientific opinion on chronic wasting disease in two parts. Part one, on surveillance, animal health risk-based measures and public health risks, was published in January 2017. This opinion (part two) addresses the remaining Terms of Reference, namely, ‘are the conclusions and recommendations in the EFSA opinion of June 2004 on diagnostic methods for chronic wasting disease still valid? If not, an update should be provided’, and ‘update the conclusions of the 2010 EFSA opinion on the results of the European Union survey on chronic wasting disease in cervids, as regards its occurrence in the cervid population in the European Union’. Data on the performance of authorised rapid tests in North America are not comprehensive, and are more limited than those available for the tests approved for statutory transmissible spongiform encephalopathies surveillance applications in cattle and sheep. There are no data directly comparing available rapid test performances in cervids. The experience in Norway shows that the Bio-Rad TeSeETM SAP test, immunohistochemistry and western blotting have detected reindeer, moose and red deer cases. It was shown that testing both brainstem and lymphoid tissue from each animal increases the surveillance sensitivity. Shortcomings in the previous EU survey limited the reliability of inferences that could be made about the potential disease occurrence in Europe. Subsequently, testing activity in Europe was low, until the detection of the disease in Norway, triggering substantial testing efforts in that country. Available data neither support nor refute the conclusion that chronic wasting disease does not occur widely in the EU and do not preclude the possibility that the disease was present in Europe before the survey was conducted. It appears plausible that chronic wasting disease could have become established in Norway more than a decade ago.