Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a debilitating and fatal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of cervids – members of the deer family, Cervidae. The disease, which was first recognized in 1967, has been found in deer, elk, and moose, and occurs in both captive and wild populations. Other animals, including humans, are impacted by similarly recognized TSEs:
- cattle – bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
- sheep and goats – scrapie
- mink – transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME)
- members of the cat family – feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE)
- humans – variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)
In a continuing effort to prevent the spread of CWD and to help those who farm cervids avoid losses from CWD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued an interim rule, which amends its July 2006 final rule that established the CWD Herd Certification Program in the Code of Federal Regulation (9 CFR 55). On June 13, 2012, APHIS announced the interim rule and sought comments on the amendments to the final rule that set minimum requirements without pre-empting more restrictive State or local laws or regulations regarding interstate movement by humans of captive cervids.
The AVMA sent a letter to APHIS supportive of the Agency’s recognition of State CWD programs and the Agency’s collaborative spirit in amending the July 2006 final rule. Below are a few excerpts from the letter, and we’ve posted a PDF of the AVMA’s entire response.
“CWD is significant to the AVMA, which supports and encourages enhanced national and state surveillance, monitoring, and control programs for TSEs.”
“… a national program, which recognizes such State [CWD] programs and which establishes the minimum requirements across the nation, helps to ensure that all who participate are at least meeting or exceeding key herd health protection and surveillance efforts.”
“The AVMA supports reasonable regulations (e.g. licensing, registration, inspections) pertaining to ownership, possession, and disposition of cervids as well as other wild animal species and their hybrids, whether or not raised in captivity.”
“Science based consideration should be given to all potential impacts of human movement of cervids – captive or wild.”
“… State and local authorities know the resources and risks within their jurisdictions and are more suited to protect their resources beyond the protection afforded by a national program if required. Therefore, it is imperative that the Agency recognize States’ needs and rights for the options to have additional regulatory requirements on cervid transports entering or passing through their respective jurisdictions.”