A red deer stag
A red deer stag in front of a herd

Chronic wasting disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), also known as Cervid Wasting Disease, is a highly infectious, fatal disease which has devastated some populations of wild and farmed deer in North America.

CWD has very recently been diagnosed in four separate cases in Scandinavia, in a wild reindeer and also in moose. The risk of CWD entering the UK is likely to have increased now the disease is present in Europe.

CWD is caused by a prion, a mutant folded protein, and belongs to the same group of diseases as scrapie, which affects sheep and goats, and “mad cow disease” (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE). This group of diseases is known collectively as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies or TSEs.

CWD is the most infectious and although the name suggests a body sickness, the main symptom is actually a degeneration of the brain and central nervous system.

A working group, including BASC, was established to formulate a government and industry response, building on the work of the British Deer Society (BDS) over the last few years.