Facts About CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Information

Welcome to the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) information page. Here, you will find facts and essential information about CWD, a serious neurological disease affecting deer populations.

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and other members of the cervid family. It belongs to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which cause degeneration of the brain and nervous system.

How is CWD Transmitted?

CWD is transmitted through prions, misfolded proteins that can cause normal proteins to misfold as well, leading to neurological damage. The primary modes of transmission include direct contact between infected and susceptible animals, as well as indirect contact through contaminated environments and food sources.

Symptoms of CWD

Symptoms of CWD include progressive weight loss, abnormal behavior, loss of coordination, drooling, excessive thirst, and ultimately, death. Infected animals may exhibit emaciation, lethargy, and altered social interactions as the disease progresses.

Geographical Distribution

CWD has been reported in both wild and captive deer populations in North America, including the United States and Canada. It has also been documented in some parts of Europe and Asia. The disease continues to spread to new areas, posing a significant threat to wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Impact on Wildlife

CWD poses a significant threat to wild deer populations, as well as captive cervid facilities and game farms. It can lead to population declines, reduced genetic diversity, and ecosystem disruption. The long-term effects of CWD on affected ecosystems are still being studied.

Human Health Concerns

While there is currently no evidence that CWD can infect humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding consumption of meat from CWD-infected animals as a precautionary measure. Further research is ongoing to assess the potential risks to human health associated with CWD.

Prevention and Management

Efforts to prevent and manage CWD include surveillance and monitoring programs, regulations on cervid movement and trade, public education, and research into disease transmission and treatment options. Hunters and wildlife managers play a crucial role in disease management by following recommended practices for handling and processing deer carcasses.


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a serious and complex issue that requires ongoing attention and collaboration among government agencies, wildlife organizations, researchers, and the public. By raising awareness and taking proactive measures, we can work together to mitigate the spread and impact of CWD on deer populations and ecosystems.

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), please visit the websites of relevant wildlife agencies, research institutions, and conservation organizations.

The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or veterinary advice. For specific questions or concerns about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), please consult with qualified professionals in the field.