Monitoring of chronic wasting disease

Source: Phil McLachlan


The European Commission requested an analysis of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) monitoring programme in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (9 January 2017–28 February 2022).



Thirteen cases were detected in reindeer, 15 in moose and 3 in red deer. They showed two phenotypes, distinguished by the presence or absence of detectable disease‐associated normal cellular prion protein (PrP) in lymphoreticular tissues.



CWD was detected for the first time in Finland, Sweden and in other areas of Norway. In countries where the disease was not detected, the evidence was insufficient to rule out its presence altogether. Where cases were detected, the prevalence was below 1%. The data also suggest that the high‐risk target groups for surveillance should be revised, and ‘road kill’ removed. Data show that, in addition to differences in age and sex, there are differences in the prion protein gene (PRNP) genotypes between positive and negative wild reindeer.



A stepwise framework has been proposed with expanded minimum background surveillance to be implemented in European countries with relevant cervid species. Additional surveillance may include ad hoc surveys for four different objectives, specific to countries with/without cases, focusing on parallel testing of obex and lymph nodes from adult cervids in high‐risk target groups, sustained over time, using sampling units and a data‐driven design prevalence.



Criteria for assessing the probability of CWD presence have been outlined, based on the definition of the geographical area, an annual assessment of risk of introduction, sustained minimum background surveillance, training and engagement of stakeholders and a surveillance programme based on data‐driven parameters.



All positive cases should be genotyped. Sample sizes for negative samples have been proposed to detect and estimate the frequency of PRNP polymorphisms. Double‐strand sequencing of the entire PRNP open reading frame should be undertaken for all selected samples, with data collated in a centralised collection system at EU level.





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Source: © European Food Safety Authority

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