Chapter 13 – Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program

This page is part of the Guidance Document Repository (GDR).

Looking for related documents?
Search for related documents in the Guidance Document Repository

Table of Contents

13.1 The Disease

Etiology

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a naturally occurring member of an unusual group of fatal neurological diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and occurs in both captive and free-ranging North American cervids. Abnormal prion protein is associated with the presence of disease.

Susceptible Species

Susceptible cervid species that have been identified with CWD include mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), red deer (Cervus elaphus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus), moose (Alces alces shirasi), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), and Manchurian Sika deer (Cervus nippon).

Distribution

CWD is known to be present in free-ranging and/or captive cervids in 22 states and two provinces in North America, and in the Republic of Korea. In Canada, CWD exists in free-ranging cervid populations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and has been identified in captive cervid premises in those two provinces.

Epidemiology

1. Following an unknown infectious dose (which has been estimated to be as small as 5-25 μg of PrPCWD), the incubation period of CWD, in captive cervids, has been observed to be 16 to 36 months, with an average incubation period of 22 months. This is followed by a clinical period of less than 12 months. CWD-infected cervids can be infectious to other cervids for up to 18 months prior to their death.

2. The primary route of transmission of CWD is believed to be lateral, with infection acquired by oral exposure to secretions or excretions of animals in the infectious phase. Animals in captivity have a greater opportunity for exposure through indirect and direct transmission. Shared water sources and feed contaminated with CWD-infected feces or saliva are major environmental risks on farm. Infection can also occur when animals are exposed to the CWD prion in highly contaminated environments alone.

3. The CWD prion is highly resistant to both chemical and physical denaturing, and thus can persist in the environment. Decontamination efforts must keep this in mind. The agent can survive in soil for extended periods of time and is resistant to dry heat up to 600°C, sunlight, freezing, and desiccation.

Clinical Signs

CWD should be considered in any cervids over 12 months of age. Since clinical signs can vary, can be similar to other cervid diseases, and may not be overt until late in the disease course, significant transmission of the CWD prion may occur prior to any indication of a disease problem.

Clinical signs can present as follows:

  • excessive salivation;
  • unusual behaviour (including decreased interactions with other animals), listlessness, depression;
  • aggressive or violent behaviour;
  • neurological signs (including paralysis, difficulty in swallowing, head pressing, ataxia, polydipsia/polyuria, proprioceptive deficits, and recumbency);
  • weight loss and/or poor body condition;
  • retention of winter hair coat; and
  • aspiration pneumonia.

Signs usually last for weeks or months before the animal dies; however, some animals may not show clinical signs, except for acute pneumonia, or may succumb to a fatal injury. As there is no treatment for CWD, clinical signs progress until the animal dies.

Differential Diagnosis

The clinical signs associated with CWD can mimic other diseases of cervids, and may, in fact, be very subtle in the early stages of the disease. The differential diagnosis of CWD will depend on which clinical signs the animal exhibits, but may include the following:

  • brain abscesses;
  • traumatic injuries;
  • meningitis;
  • encephalitis;
  • rabies;
  • peritonitis;
  • pneumonia;
  • arthritis;
  • starvation and nutritional deficiencies; and
  • dental attrition.

Laboratory Diagnosis

There is currently no validated live animal test for CWD, and gross pathological lesions are non-specific. CWD is diagnosed through detection of the abnormal prion protein in brain or lymphoid tissue. The tissues to submit for diagnosis in every eligible animal on the CWD Voluntary Herd Certification Program are the obex of the medulla oblongata and the retropharyngeal lymph node (RPLN). The primary target tissue tested for all members of the family Cervidae (with the exception of members of the genus Odocoileus), such as elk, red deer, reindeer, sika deer, and fallow deer, is the obex of the medulla. The primary target tissue tested for Odocoileus species (including white-tailed deer and mule deer) is the RPLN.

The screening test used in this program is the standard Bio-Rad enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. The confirmatory test used in suspect cases is either immunohistochemistry (IHC) or Western Blot (or both).

Immunity

No immune response to the CWD prion protein has been detected.

Public Health

CWD is not known to be a human health hazard; however, experimental primate challenge studies are ongoing. As such, Health Canada recommends that any tissue which may come from any CWD-infected cervid should not be used or consumed by humans.

13.2 Policy and Principles of Control

Policy Statement

1. The Canadian Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP) is a program that cervid owners can choose to join. However, once they are participating in the program, their compliance with the national standards is mandatory. (See Module 13.6, Appendix 3.)

The objective of the CWD VHCP is to provide owners with the opportunity to have their herds identified as negligible risk with respect to CWD. The level of CWD risk diminishes with successful advancement in the program, and depends on the length of time the herd has been enrolled. Import requirements of other countries for cervids may be based on enrolment or activities under the CWD VHCP. This program also provides a valuable vehicle for surveillance for CWD in captive cervids within Canada. Any owner of a cervid premises who agrees to comply with the CWD VHCP may enrol.

2. The CWD VHCP program requirements apply to all animals of the family Cervidae (including, but not limited to, animals of the genera Cervus, Odocoileus, Dama, Alces, and Rangifer).

Statutory Authority

3. CWD is a reportable disease under the Reportable Diseases Regulations, prescribed pursuant to section 2 of the Health of Animals Act. Any person suspecting an animal of demonstrating signs consistent with CWD must report that animal to a federal veterinarian at a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district office.

4. The primary role of the federal government in the CWD VHCP is to establish the national standards (Module 13.6, Appendix 3) and to enforce compliance with these standards through audit.

Principles for Control and Eradication

5. There are currently no validated tests to definitively rule out CWD in live animals, either individually or as a herd. At this time, CWD VHCP status is determined on a herd basis by post-mortem testing of all eligible animals, the absence of clinical signs, and the prevention of exposure to CWD over a designated period of time.

CWD is the most contagious of the three transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in animals. It can be easily transmitted from animal to animal via direct or indirect contact with secretions or excretions, such as saliva, urine, and feces. Transmission between wild and captive cervids has been recognized. Nose-to-nose contact through fences and the introduction of feed contaminated by wild cervid secreta/excreta outside the fence are believed to be sources of infection in some well-managed herds. Given these risks, using good management practices (GMPs) and focusing on good biosecurity are of paramount importance.

The CWD prion can also persist in the environment for several years. Soil likely serves as a reservoir for infectivity, as prions have been shown to extensively bind to certain soil minerals, remain infectious for a number of years, and even increase infectivity over time with binding of soil minerals. As such, CWD can be transmitted to live animals by a prion-contaminated premises in the absence of infected cervids. There is currently no validated test to detect or quantify infectious prion contamination in the environment.

To achieve certification status, the enrolled herd must meet all of the program requirements to successfully advance from level E to certified. The core program has three elements: 1) deadstock testing, 2) immaculate record keeping and inventory management, and 3) herd closed to animals not on the CWD VHCP. A minimum of five years is necessary for an enrolled herd to reach the certified level.

A CWD suspect is any animal that has CWD as a differential diagnosis.

A CWD-positive animal is any animal in which the CFIA confirms the diagnosis of CWD by applying a confirmatory test to lymphoid or brain tissues. The current confirmatory tests are immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western Blot.

13.3 Accredited Veterinarian's Responsibilities

Preliminary Activities

1. Schedule a meeting with the local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district veterinarian to obtain the training necessary to establish a valid accreditation agreement (contract) with the CFIA. During this meeting, review the terms and conditions for herd certification, and discuss the duties and procedures that the accredited veterinarian must follow for the delivery of the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP).

2. Obtain and read the National Standards for the CWD VHCP (see Module 13.6, Appendix 3) and CFIA directive TAHD-DSAT-DCAW-2011-11, effective date: 2011-10-20 (see Module 13.6, Appendix 6), which outlines the current testing and reporting requirements and CFIA-approved laboratory information.

3. A tutorial or a review of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) brain and lymph node sampling techniques in cervids is suggested at this time. The CD Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies: Surveillance and Specimen Collection is a good resource available through the CFIA.

4. Once accredited for this function, make arrangements with an interested owner to assess the facilities, herd management, and record-keeping practices. These steps should be undertaken to gauge the degree to which the accredited veterinarian believes the producer can be successful, and to identify any necessary changes in record keeping or management that would facilitate meeting the CWD VHCP requirements.

Note: A third party initial herd inventory is to be prepared within the three months immediately prior to the submission of an enrolment application by the owner. (See section 16, below, and Module 13.3, section 6, for clarification on third parties.)

5. Advise owners to contact the regional administrator (RA) in their area (see Module 13.6, Appendix 4) to obtain an application form and to learn what is required to participate, to advance and to maintain certification.

Note: Certain regions in Canada may have a standard that is equivalent to or higher than what is set out in the national standards and in this manual. Obtain a copy of the regional VHCP from the RA, noting any differences in requirements over and above what is detailed in this manual.

Program Delivery

6. In accordance with the national standards, program delivery is carried out by either an accredited veterinarian or provincial staff (i.e. a veterinarian who is an employee of a provincial department that is the status assessor/regional administrator, or SA/RA).

Note: Although the program delivery person (subsequently referred to as the accredited veterinarian) is responsible for the duties outlined in section 7, below, in this program, the inventory portion only may be conducted by an approved third partyFootnote 1 during the first and second years, and every third year after that. Any of the approved third parties may carry out the initial inventory; however, using the accredited veterinarian is strongly recommended. During the other years, when a third party is not required, the owner is permitted to conduct the inventory portion, if they wish. Regardless of who completes the inventory, it will still be the accredited veterinarian's responsibility to complete the annual inventory report. (See Module 13.4, section 32.)

General Overview of Accredited Veterinarian's Responsibilities

7. Accredited veterinarians under this program are responsible for the following:

  • reviewing the requirements of the program and responding to questions of the owner of premises applying for or enrolled in the program;
  • teaching the owner to recognize the clinical signs of CWD, providing information on the epidemiology of the disease and herd management;
  • assessing the facilities on premises proposed for membership in the program;
  • conducting a herd inventory (at minimum, during times when a third party inventory is required);
  • assessing the health of the herd to determine whether any cervid is demonstrating signs of CWD;
  • reconciling records to ensure that the herd meets the program requirements;
  • signing reports, including the annual inventory, and submitting them to the status assessor;
  • reporting any suspected case of CWD to the CFIA district veterinarian; and
  • collecting samples and submitting samples if the owner has not sent them directly to the provincial laboratory.

Producer Responsibilities

8. It is the owner's responsibility to comply with the CWD VHCP requirements (see Module 13.6, Appendix 3) that include the following:

  • submitting samples from all cervids over 12 months of age that die, or informing the AV that animal(s) have died and that it is necessary to submit samples;
  • maintaining facilities and fences, and meeting any provincial standards;
  • keeping records of all cervids on the premises and moving onto or off of the premises;
  • employing an accredited veterinarian;
  • conducting annual inventories (in years when they are permitted to do so);
  • being aware of the clinical signs and epidemiology of CWD taught by the accredited veterinarian, and observing and immediately reporting to the accredited veterinarian any signs of CWD in animals; and
  • providing to the accredited veterinarian, the regional administrator, or the status assessor, upon request, any supporting documentation or missing information that is necessary to reconcile the inventory or complete the annual advancement process.

13.4 Program Procedures

Preliminary Activities

1. Schedule a meeting with the local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district veterinarian to obtain the training necessary to establish a valid accreditation agreement (contract) with the CFIA. During this meeting, review the terms and conditions for herd certification, and discuss the duties and procedures that the accredited veterinarian must follow for the delivery of the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP).

2. Obtain and read the National Standards for the CWD VHCP (see Module 13.6, Appendix 3) and CFIA directive TAHD-DSAT-DCAW-2011-11, effective date: 2011-10-20 (see Module 13.6, Appendix 6), which outlines the current testing and reporting requirements and CFIA-approved laboratory information.

3. A tutorial or a review of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) brain and lymph node sampling techniques in cervids is suggested at this time. The CD Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies: Surveillance and Specimen Collection is a good resource available through the CFIA.

4. Once accredited for this function, make arrangements with an interested owner to assess the facilities, herd management, and record-keeping practices. These steps should be undertaken to gauge the degree to which the accredited veterinarian believes the producer can be successful, and to identify any necessary changes in record keeping or management that would facilitate meeting the CWD VHCP requirements.

Note: A third party initial herd inventory is to be prepared within the three months immediately prior to the submission of an enrolment application by the owner. (See section 16, below, and Module 13.3, section 6, for clarification on third parties.)

5. Advise owners to contact the regional administrator (RA) in their area (see Module 13.6, Appendix 4) to obtain an application form and to learn what is required to participate, to advance and to maintain certification.

Note: Certain regions in Canada may have a standard that is equivalent to or higher than what is set out in the national standards and this manual. Obtain a copy of the regional VHCP program from the RA, noting any differences in requirements over and above what is detailed in this manual.

Application

6. The herd owner contacts the RA and requests an application form.

7. An application is completed and submitted to the organization responsible for status assessment by the owner. The application form must be accompanied by the following:

  • the initial herd inventory prepared by the accredited veterinarian (or other approved third party) within the three-month period immediately prior to the submission of the application (see section 16 in this module and Module 13.3, section 6, for additional information);
  • a record-keeping plan (objective: records must be reviewed completely and effectively at each annual inspection); and
  • though it is not currently a national requirement, a site plan of all buildings and grazing premises to which the animals are given access. Regional or provincial programs that exceed the minimum national standards may have this requirement; thus, check with the RA.

8. The application must be signed by the accredited veterinarian and the owner. The initial inventory must be signed by the owner and the approved third party who conducts the inventory. (It is strongly recommended that the accredited veterinarian be the third party who conducts the initial inventory.)

Annual Anniversary Date and Anniversary Quarter

9. The status assessor (SA) will assign an annual anniversary date, based on the date the initial inventory was completed (or equivalent – check with SA).

10. The herd's category each year will be effective on the annual anniversary date.

11. Each annual inventory will be completed within the three months before or after the annual anniversary date.

12. The national standards refer to an anniversary quarter – that is, the three-month period following the anniversary date.

Inventories

13. Perform the initial animal inventory. All cervids 11 months or older on the premises must bear two forms of identification. All animals younger than 11 months must be officially identified (either with a provincial government-approved identifier or a CFIA Health of Animals Tag) when a change in ownership occurs or when animals are moved from their usual location (e.g. exhibition, insemination centre, sales barn, or auction barn).

14. Assess the animals for any clinical signs that can be associated with CWD.

15. The initial inventory must be completed within the three months immediately prior to the time the application is submitted. Each subsequent annual inventory must be completed and reported within three months of the initial inventory/anniversary date (i.e. no later than the end of the anniversary quarter).

16. The initial inventory, inventories at the end of the first (level E) and second (level D) years, and every third inventory after level C must be carried out by one of the approved third parties. Approved third parties include the accredited veterinarian, an animal health technician registered under the appropriate provincial licensing body and employed by the accredited veterinarian, or staff of a provincial department or agency that is the RA/SA. It is strongly recommended that the accredited veterinarian be the third party who conducts the initial inventory. CFIA staff can be an approved third party for conducting only the inventory, if it falls in a year when the herd undergoes CFIA tuberculosis and brucellosis testing which is currently every five years (see Module 13.3, section 6, for additional information).

17. In years when an approved third party is not required to carry out the inventory, the owner can conduct the inventory. At the time of inventory, the cervids are to be observed for clinical signs associated with CWD. If for any reason the cervids cannot be identified by using the dangle tag at a distance, they must be identified accurately using the official tag. The accredited veterinarian is still responsible for reconciling this inventory and examining the producer's records (making sure that the inventory and records provided by the owner contain all of the necessary information and account for any movement and deaths, as outlined in the owner's record-keeping requirements in section 35, below).

18. Instruct the owner to record all additions to the herd. Records are required for every cervid that is born on, or enters, the premises.

19. Inform the owner that acquisitions of live cervids or embryos must include documentation with proof that the cervid or embryo comes from one of the sources of equivalent or higher status listed in section 26, below. Any acquisitions of live cervids or embryos from herds of a lower status will result in the lowering of the certification level to that of the source of the cervids by the SA at the time of annual advancement.

20. Instruct the owner to maintain appropriate documentation of every cervid that leaves the herd (e.g. sales receipts, notation of deaths).

21. Inform the owner that records must be maintained for a period of five years after the animal has left the herd or died.

Physical Inventories/Inspection

22. Approved third parties conduct the physical inventories where the identification tags of all cervids on the premises must be read and recorded as outlined above in section 16.

23. The inventory will identify every cervid on the premises.

24. The initial inventory, and inventories at the end of the first and second years, as well as every third inventory after that, must be carried out by an approved third party as outlined in section 16, above.

25. Regardless of which approved party does the actual inventory in a given year, the accredited veterinarian is responsible for reconciliation of the inventory, identification and inventory of any remaining animals, and submission of the annual inventory report.

Acquisitions and Movement of Live Cervids and Genetic Material

26. Acquisitions of live cervids and embryos must come from herds of an equivalent or higher level.

Equivalent or higher status sources include the following:

  • Canadian herds enrolled at the same level of a herd certification program that has been assessed by the CFIA to meet the minimum national standards;
  • herds enrolled at an appropriate level of a herd certification program in another country or state of the U.S., which the CFIA has assessed as equivalent to the Canadian minimum national standards; and
  • herds in countries assessed and recognized by the CFIA as free from CWD.

27. Acquisitions of live cervids or embryos from herds of a lower status will result in the lowering of the certification level to that of the source of the cervids.

28. For the two first levels of the certification program, additions can only be made from a maximum of five herds per year. Herds that exceed this limit are considered assembled herds and must re-enroll as such.

29. According to the current standard, cervids may be sold at a live auction, provided the district veterinarian is satisfied that steps will be taken to prevent direct contact with cervids of a lesser certification status. (As of 2004, all cervids must be from level C or higher.) It is the owner's responsibility to inform the district veterinarian that this step must be initiated.

Note: Given current knowledge about indirect transmission, either direct sale or electronic auctions where no commingling occurs, with direct transport to the purchasing farm in an appropriately cleaned and disinfected vehicle, would be better for risk mitigation than a live auction.

30. Embryos collected within 18 months of the time the donor is diagnosed as positive for CWD shall not be used.

31. It is unknown whether semen can transmit CWD. At this time, semen may be brought into the herd, provided the requirements of the Health of Animals Regulations that govern semen collection are met.

Annual Inventory Report

32. The annual inventory report is the responsibility of the accredited veterinarian. The foundation of the annual inventory report is the reconciliation of this year's annual inventory with the previous year's annual inventory. The accredited veterinarian should receive a report produced by the RA, providing all the information from the previous annual inventory, at least one month prior to the start of the anniversary quarter.

The annual report lists the following:

  • all identification of each cervid on the premises at the time of the inventory;
  • all identification devices placed on each cervid, including the current calf crop and cervids that have lost identification devices;
  • all cervids that have entered or left the premises since the last inventory;
  • the status of the herd of origin for cervids entering the premises as live animals or implanted embryos;
  • all deaths or escapes;
  • the destination of every cervid that moved off the premises, established by a bill of sale or, if the animal has not been sold, a signed document showing the destination of the cervid; and
  • appropriate laboratory results for every cervid tested for CWD.

The report must account for every cervid over 12 months of age that has died, and must state that all the records that the owner is required to keep have been examined and found satisfactory.

When the accredited veterinarian is satisfied that the report adequately documents all of the above requirements, the report should include the accredited veterinarian's name and signature.

33. The report must be forwarded to the SA by the end of the anniversary quarter (i.e. no later than three months after the annual anniversary date).

34. Instruct the owner to submit an application to the RA to advance to the next level of the certification program or to maintain certified status once they have attained that level.

Note: The application for advancement may also accompany the submission of the annual report.

Record-Keeping Requirement

35. The owner must keep detailed herd records of every cervid that is born on, or enters, the premises, regardless of who the owner is or who is responsible for the cervid. The records must be kept for a period of five years after the animal has left the herd or has died. The records must be made available to the program delivery person or the CFIA inspector at any reasonable time and must be presented at the time of each annual inventory.

For any animal purchased or moved onto or from a premises identified on the application form, the following animal records must be kept:

  • the animal's official identification numbers and any other identification;
  • sex;
  • species and any identifying marks;
  • date of birth (day, if available, month, and year);
  • official identification number and any secondary ID of sire and dam if known;
  • official identification number and any secondary ID and sex of progeny if known;
  • if dead, the date and cause of death, post-mortem report, and laboratory report;
  • any movement permit required under section 76 of the Health of Animals Regulations;
  • if removed from the premises, the date of removal, the premises to which the animal was moved, and the name, address, and telephone number of the person to whom the animal was sold (owners are required to keep bills of sale); and
  • if an animal was brought into the herd:
    1. source premises and certification program level;
    2. name and address of the person from whom the animal was acquired; and
    3. the day, month, and year.

Deadstock Testing

36. The head of every cervid over 12 months of age that dies on the premises must be submitted for CWD testing to an accredited veterinarian or to a CFIA-approved laboratory. Exemptions are as outlined below under "Exemptions" and "Slaughter and Testing Clarification."

The specific testing requirements to advance, by year, are as follows:

  • During the first two years (i.e. between the initial and first annual herd inventories and the first and second inventories), 100% of the eligible cervids that die must be tested.
  • During all subsequent periods between inventories that follow, either of the following must be true:
    1. 100% of all eligible cervids that die must be tested; or
    2. 80% of cervids that die (other than by routine slaughter) must be tested and 10% of the total eligible cervids must be tested following death by routine slaughter.
  • "Tested" in this case means a CFIA-approved lab has certified that, of the samples tested, at least 75% (3 of 4) meet the current standard set out under section 56 below as "CWD not detected." The remaining 25% (1 of 4) must be at least "CWD not detected in secondary target tissue."

37. Deadstock testing is the most critical element of the program, and the absence of even one submission without documented cause will jeopardize the status of the herd within the program.

38. The nearest CFIA-approved laboratory for CWD surveillance testing should be identified by both the accredited veterinarian and the producer. (See Module 13.6, Appendix 1C.)

39. The producer may submit the whole head directly to the laboratory and must retain all identification devices in the ear(s). The accredited veterinarian should review how to sever the head (Module 13.6, Appendices 1A and 1B), and indicate how it should be prepared for shipping.

40. Removal of the brain or retropharyngeal lymph nodes (RPLNs), carried out by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian, provincial staff, or provincial laboratory (or a CFIA veterinarian/inspectorFootnote 2), will not be counted as submitted.

41. Cervids submitted to a CFIA-approved laboratory where brain tissue cannot be identified are not considered to have been tested.

42. Animals older than 12 months submitted for routine post-mortem examination may be considered as dead submissions if tested for CWD.

43. If the owner kills a mature cervid for humane purposes, testing is still required.

Exemptions

Legitimate exemption from submission of heads

The SA should consider the following as automatic exemptions from the requirement to submit, unless the SA suspects the conditions set out were not met or that the exemption is being abused to the detriment of the herd certification program.

A. The destruction of cervids by fire
A certificate or letter from an appropriate fire official must accompany the herd report (annual inventory report).

B. The destruction and carrying away the head of a cervid by a predator
A certificate or letter from an appropriate wildlife officer or other government official who is responsible for investigating such incidents must accompany the herd report (annual inventory report).

C. Theft
A report from the police officer who investigates the theft must accompany the herd report (annual inventory report).

D. The loss or destruction of the sample when it is no longer in the control of the owner (e.g. by an accredited veterinarian or laboratory)
CFIA-approved laboratories should note upon reception of the specimen that the obex is not present and the reason why.

A letter setting out the details of the loss of the sample by the responsible individual must accompany the herd report (annual inventory report).

E. Healthy Slaughter
Cervids slaughtered as part of a group of healthy animals in a provincial or federally inspected abattoir with a veterinarian present at the time of slaughter are currently exempt from the requirement to test (except as outlined above in section 36 b), and the supporting documentation outlined below in "Slaughter and Testing Clarification" is required.

Note: Cervids slaughtered on an emergency basis are not exempt, and thus require testing.

F. Any other reason or circumstance over which the owner could not reasonably be expected to have control, resulting in the destruction or disappearance of the body, such as a flood
A letter or report from an acceptable third party that sets out the details of the reason for failure to submit the sample must accompany the herd report.

44. If the laboratory receives unsuitable brain specimens, the laboratory will notify the SA and the accredited veterinarian responsible for the herd. A follow-up of the details of the individual situation will take place with the responsible accredited veterinarian/SA. If negligence on the part of the producer is identified as the cause, or this occurrence is repeated, the program's requirements will be considered unmet, and the status of the herd will be suspended.

Slaughter and Testing Clarification

45. Healthy cervids slaughtered as part of a group in a provincial or federally inspected abattoir with a veterinarian present are exempt from CWD VHCP testing (except as outlined at point 36b) above).

To prove that an animal was part of a healthy slaughter group for the testing exemption, the following documentation is required:

  1. a document from the veterinarian who was present when the cervid was slaughtered must accompany the herd report (annual inventory report)

    AND

  2. EITHER a) a document from the abattoir, stating that arrangements had been made to slaughter the cervid, which must be acquired at least two weeks before the actual slaughter date;

    OR

    b) a transportation permit given by the CFIA, listing the animals likely to be culled, which must be acquired at least two weeks before the actual slaughter date.

If these documents cannot be obtained, the owner should have the cervid tested.

46. Cervids slaughtered on an emergency basis must be tested for CWD, because they are considered high-risk animals (similar to on-farm deaths).

47. Carcasses or parts of cervid carcasses tested for CWD must be held, pending test results, and thus, arrangements must be made with the slaughterhouse before sending the animals. The owners should consult with those responsible for inspection of the meat while making arrangements.

Sample Submissions

48. The requirements and exemptions for testing are detailed above in "Deadstock Testing," "Exemptions," and "Slaughter and Testing Clarifications."

49. Both the obex and the RPLNs must be submitted for all farmed cervids tested for CWD.

  • The primary target tissue tested for all members of the family Cervidae (with the exception of members of the genus Odocoileus), such as elk, reindeer, sika deer, red deer, and fallow deer, is the obex of the medulla.
  • The primary target tissue tested for Odocoileus species (including white-tailed deer and mule deer) is the RPLNs.

The additional submitted tissues will be frozen and held by the laboratory until the initial test is completed.

50. The specimens must always be submitted to a CFIA-approved laboratory for the Bio-Rad enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test and must follow the methodology approved by the CFIA at the time of the test. All suspect test results will be confirmed by the CFIA national reference laboratory for CWD, with the CFIA responsible for reporting the results to the owner.

51. The producer may submit the whole head directly to the laboratory and it must retain all identification devices.

Required samples removed from the head by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian, appropriate provincial staff or provincial laboratory (or a CFIA veterinarian/inspectorFootnote 2) will not be considered as submitted.

52. The head or samples must be cooled immediately and, whenever possible, should be submitted fresh. When the cervid is not found immediately or the accredited veterinarian or recognized laboratory will be unavailable, the head should be frozen immediately and submitted as a frozen specimen. This will allow testing of cervids that might not be suitable otherwise.

53. Brains that are submitted to the approved laboratories in putrefied condition may be unacceptable for normal testing. If the carcass has deteriorated significantly, it may be impossible to find brain tissue, and thus no test will be possible.

54. When the head is presented to an accredited veterinarian and there is no brain present to forward for testing, the accredited veterinarian will provide the owner with a letter certifying that the head was "submitted" and no brain tissue was present to test.

55. The obex of the medulla is the portion of the brain required for testing. If necessary, owners should obtain specific instructions from their veterinarian or association on how to humanely shoot a cervid without destroying the obex.

If the brain is severely damaged, the laboratory or accredited veterinarian may be unable to find brain tissue to test. Cervids submitted to the CFIA-approved laboratory with brain tissue that cannot be identified are not considered to have been tested.

Reporting of Results

56. Further to CFIA directive TAHD-DSAT-DCAW-2011-11-01, effective date: 2011-10-20 (see Module 13.6, Appendix 6), the following are the accepted results of analysis on samples submitted for CWD via Bio-Rad ELISA testing:

Tested: CWD not detected
(The specimen submitted contained the correct target tissue for the species being tested.)

The sample should be reported as follows: "Bio-Rad ELISA was negative for disease-specific PrP (PrPCWD). Based on the tissue available for testing, this animal was unlikely to have died from CWD."

Tested: CWD not detected in secondary target tissue
(Where the specimen submitted did not contain the primary target tissue identified for the species being tested.)

The sample should be reported as follows: "Bio-Rad ELISA was negative for disease specific PrP (PrPCWD). Based on the tissue available for testing, this animal was unlikely to have died from CWD."

This may include the following:

  • samples from white-tailed and mule deer where the RPLN was not submitted but obex and/or brain is available for testing;
  • samples from elk where the obex was not submitted but the RPLN or other area of the brain is available for testing.

Submitted: Unsuitable for testing
(Where the specimen submitted did not have identifiable brain or RPLN tissue available for testing, and a report for analysis is completed.)

The sample should be reported as "Submitted: Unsuitable for testing." This should be followed with an explanation as to the cause for this result.

This may include the following:

  • samples where tissues other than brain/obex or RPLN are received;
  • samples where a skull/head is submitted, but no testable tissues are present.

57. Laboratory results are generally reported to the party that submits the sample, though this may vary by laboratory.

Advancement and Penalties

58. In addition to the criteria for advancement outlined in the "Deadstock Testing" section of this document, please refer to the section on "Advancement in Status Level," as outlined in section 17 of the national standards, for more information on what criteria the SA/RA may use for applying the penalties of lack of advancement or dropping one level in any given year.

Note: These administrative decisions may be set to an equivalent, or higher, level in various regional programs; check with the SA/RA in your area regarding penalties.

59. The minimum national standards for suspension and appeals are outlined in the national standards; check with the SA/RA for your regional program regarding the process for suspension and/or revocation or appeals.

Sick Animals

60. Instruct the owner of the herd to report to the accredited veterinarian any illness in a cervid 12 months of age or older, lasting longer than two weeks, except for a physical injury.

61. The accredited veterinarian will be responsible for monitoring the outcome of the case and for reporting the case to the CFIA if CWD is a differential diagnosis. Educate the owner to recognize the clinical signs of CWD, and provide information on the epidemiology of the disease.

Sanitary Precautions

62. Any cervid showing an illness of more than two weeks' duration must not be moved off the premises or have contact with any cervid with which it has not had previous contact, unless the accredited veterinarian approves the movement to treat the animal, and this movement will not expose any additional cervids.

63. If management practices include separating the year's calf crop from the yearlings or adults, no sick adult will be placed in the pens with the calves.

64. Every third party vehicle that transports cervids must be cleaned and disinfected before loading the cervids. (See Module 13.6 Appendix 2 for information on priocidal disinfectants.) The owner requires the transporter to provide a statement that the truck was cleaned and disinfected, and keeps a copy of the statement as supporting documentation for the RA/SA for the annual application for advancement.

13.5 Export Certification

1. If an additional letter is required by the importer, animals from herds enrolled in the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP) may be certified and endorsed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as participating in a program that meets the minimum national standards. The CFIA will work to gain international recognition of the minimum national standards. Certificates documenting participation and level in the herd certification program are obtained from the regional administrator for that area of Canada. (See Module 13.6, Appendix 4.)

13.6 Appendix 1A: Brain Sampling Procedures

Entire heads may be submitted fresh or frozen to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-approved laboratory. (See Module 13.6, Appendix 1C.)

Samples removed by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian, provincial staff, or an approved laboratory (or a CFIA veterinarian/inspectorFootnote 3) will not be counted as submitted under the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP).

Both the obex and the retropharyngeal nodes (RPLNs) must be submitted for all farmed cervids tested for CWD under the CWD VHCP.

Visualize the approved identification device in situ prior to removing tissues for testing, record all individual animal identification information on the CWD form, and ensure the tag(s) are submitted with the sample to the laboratory.

Note: Visualization of this technique is available on the training CD entitled Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies: Surveillance and Specimen Collection published by the CFIA and available from district veterinarians and TSE veterinary program specialists in the various areas.

Obex Harvesting Technique

Recommended tools:

  • knife for disarticulation of the head (if required);
  • rat-toothed forceps;
  • obex removal knife, spoon (plastic BioRad or metal) (Figure 1);Footnote 4
  • scalpel (optional);
  • scissors (optional).

Figure 1 - Examples of obex spoon

Figure 1 - Examples of obex spoon

When removing the head from the body, all the flesh, including the spinal cord, should be cut cleanly 15 cm (6 inches) from the head.

1. Place the cervid head upside down (dorsal side down) with the nose pointing away from you and the foramen magnum facing you on a clean, disinfected surface (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Cervid head, dorsal side down for correct orientation

Figure 2 - Cervid head, dorsal side down for correct orientation

2. Using the forceps, grasp the dura mater (which is the thick lining around the spinal cord). With the scissors, make a single cut down the centre line to form two flaps.

3. Remove the congealed blood from around the spinal cord.

4. Use the forceps to hold the dura. Sever the cranial nerves from the spinal cord. This can be done with a scalpel, an obex knife, or carefully with scissors (as shown in Figure 3) by moving the instrument gently around the cord.

Figure 3 - Severing the attachments to free up the spinal cord

Figure 3 - Severing the attachments to free up the spinal cord

5. This is the most important step in freeing up the spinal cord. The cord must be completely free from attachments by cranial nerves in all directions. If some cranial nerves are left attached, a portion of the obex will remain with that cranial nerve and be pulled off your sample.

6. Once the brain stem and spinal cord are free from cranial nerve attachments, turn the head so that it is dorsal side up on the table. Insert the spoon or spatula into the cerebral canal. Advance it cranially as far as you can until the tip lodges against parts of the skull and comes to rest between the cerebellum and the brain stem. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4 - Head turned - dorsal side up, advancing the collection spoon into the canal for obex removal

Figure 4 - Head turned - dorsal side up, advancing the collection spoon into the canal for obex removal

7. Use your index finger to place downward pressure on the handle of the obex tool, and rotate the tool back and forth to sever the brain stem.

8. Keep the tip of the obex tool down and drag the tool backwards, gently bringing the severed portion of the brain stem with it. The obex is recognizable as a V-shaped depression. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5 - Obex

Figure 5 - Obex

Contact the laboratory to request information on specimen submission (fresh or frozen), and ensure that the individual animal's tag is submitted with the sample to the approved laboratory.

13.6 Appendix 1B: Lymph Node Sampling Procedures

Entire heads may be submitted fresh or frozen to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-approved laboratory. (See Module 13.6, Appendix 1C.)

Samples removed by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian, provincial staff, or an approved laboratory (or a CFIA veterinarian/inspectorFootnote 5) will not be counted as submitted under the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP).

Both the obex and the retropharyngeal nodes (RPLNs) must be submitted for all farmed cervids tested for CWD under the CWD VHCP.

Visualize the approved identification device in situ prior to removing tissues for testing, record all individual animal identification information on the CWD form, and ensure the tag(s) are submitted with the sample to the laboratory.

Note: Visualization of this technique is available on the training CD entitled Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies: Surveillance and Specimen Collection, published by the CFIA and available from district veterinarians and TSE veterinary program specialists in the various areas.

Retropharyngeal Lymph Node Harvesting Technique

Recommended tools:

  • medium-sized boning knife;
  • rat-toothed forceps;
  • scissors (optional).

The following is one suggested removal technique to harvest a set of RPLNs. For orientation, the lymph nodes depicted in this Appendix are the medial RPLNs, and lie deep and between the base of the larynx (windpipe) and the floor of the skull. They are "buried" in an area of whitish connective tissue on either side of the pharynx and upper neck and jaw.

1. Place the cervid head upside down (dorsal side down), with the nose pointing away from you, and with the foramen magnum facing you, on a clean, disinfected surface (Figure 6).

Figure 6 - Cervid head, dorsal side down for correct orientation

Figure 6 - Cervid head, dorsal side down for correct orientation

2. With a medium-sized boning knife, make the first incision, going straight upwards, from just above the foramen magnum to the surface (and through the skin if not skinned) (Figure 7).

3. Make a second cut, extending from where the first cut began, staying close to the base of the skull and moving the knife down and to the right as if you were boning out the tissue (Figure 7).

Figure 7 - Location of the necessary cuts to access the buried RPLNs

Figure 7 - Location of the necessary cuts to access the buried retropharyngeal lymph nodes

4. Make the third cut, starting at the same spot above the foramen magnum and going down and to the left, staying close to the skull (Figure 7).

5. After pulling back/reflecting the two flaps created, notice an area of white connective tissue and fat on either side of the cut. The RPLNs are fairly large, firm, and encapsulated in the white fibrous tissue (Figure 8).

Figure 8 - Location of buried RPLNs

Figure 8 - Location of buried retropharyngeal lymph nodes

(Photo courtesy of Ministère de l'Agriculture des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec [MAPAQ].)

6. Bluntly dissect out the beige-coloured, firm nodular lymph nodes buried in the white connective tissue, using your gloved fingers and/or a pair of scissors (Figure 9).

Figure 9 - Beige RPLNs after dissection from the connective tissue capsule

Figure 9 - Beige retropharyngeal lymph nodes after dissection from the connective tissue capsule

Contact the laboratory to request information on specimen submission (fresh or frozen), and ensure the individual animal's tag is submitted with the sample to the approved laboratory.

13.6 Appendix 1C: List of Laboratories

CFIA-Approved Laboratories for Chronic Wasting Disease Testing, Using the BioRad ELISA

Note: Pursuant to directive TAHD-DSAT-DCAW-2011-11-01 (Module 13.6, Appendix 6), the samples collected, the approved laboratories, and the test reporting have been updated from the current national standards for the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP). The information in this Appendix is current to the publication date.

In addition, the term "recognized laboratories" has been replaced with "CFIA-approved laboratories."

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Agri-Food Laboratories Branch
TSE Laboratory
6909 – 116th Street
Edmonton, AB T6H 4P2
Telephone: 780-415-4516
Facsimile: 780-415-4527

Animal Health Laboratory
Laboratory Services Division
University of Guelph
Building 89, 419 Gordon Street,
P.O. Box 3612
Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6R8
Telephone: 519-824-4120 (ext. 54530)
Facsimile: 519-827-0961

Ministère de l'Agriculture des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) – (French only)
Laboratoire d'epidemiosurveillance animale du Québec
3220 Sicotte Street
Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 2M2
Telephone: 450-778-6542 (ext. 5800)
Facsimile: 450-778-6535

Prairie Diagnostic Services
Rm. 2604 Diagnostic Immunology Laboratory
52 Campus Dr.
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4
Telephone: 306-966-7316
Facsimile: 306-966-2488

Note: CWD is a reportable disease, and thus if an animal exhibits signs for which CWD is a differential diagnosis, the local CFIA district office can be contacted for sampling.

13.6 Appendix 2: Sanitary Precaution and Disinfectants

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is not considered a human pathogen; however, normal sanitary precautions against a possible range of pathogens should be taken. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and face protection when collecting brain specimens. Always avoid direct contact with brain tissues. Personnel at tissue harvesting sites should take precautions to avoid ingesting the agent.

It is recommended that you place the animal's head on a disposable plastic drop sheet. This sheet should be large enough to cover the work area.

Chemical decontamination of equipment and work surfaces with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) at a concentration of 2% available chlorine, or sodium hydroxide (NaOH) at a concentration of 2 Molars, is recommended. Surfaces and equipment should be left wet (or soaking) with NaOCl or NaOH for at least 1 hour at 20°C.

1. NaOH can be purchased from Fisher Scientific in crystal form. To make a 2 Molar concentration of NaOH, dilute 80 grams NaOH crystals in one litre of water and stir well.

or

2. NaOCl can be prepared from industrial grade or commercially available bleach (such as Javex). Dilute the bleach to provide a final concentration of 2% (20,000 ppm) available chlorine. For example, most commercially available bleaches have 6% available chlorine listed on the label. In this case, mix one part bleach and two parts water (ratio 1:2) to attain the 2% concentration of available chlorine. Bury or incinerate used disposable protective clothing, gloves, and animal remains.

It is recommended that neurosurgical tools be soaked in NaOH for one hour, removed from the solution, and then wiped with the NaOCl solution for 10 seconds. Dry the tools, as the NaOCl is corrosive.

Note: Other traditional disinfectants, such as Virkon, are not effective against prion agents. Instruments must be disinfected with either sodium hypochlorite or sodium hydroxide.

13.6 Appendix 3: National Standards for the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program

Warning:

Parts of section 14 and Appendix A, Recognized Labs, are no longer current in this document. For current sampling requirements, test reporting, and CFIA-approved laboratories, refer to Directive DCAW 2011-11-01 (Module 13.6, Appendix 6), as well as Modules 13.3 and 13.4, and Module 13.6, Appendices, 1A, 1B, and 1C of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual.

Amended May 15, 2003
Original – September 18, 2002

Contents

Part A: Overview of the Roles and Responsibilities of the Program

Part B: Criteria

  1. Eligibility of Herd
  2. Eligibility of Program
  3. Contract
  4. All Cervids
  5. Multiple Premises
  6. Facilities
  7. Program Delivery Qualifications Facilities
  8. Information Sharing
  9. Inventories
  10. Annual Inventory Report
  11. Identification
  12. Records
  13. Report of Sick Cervids
  14. Sample Submissions
  15. Acquisitions, Movements, and Introductions of Live Cervids and Genetic Material
  16. Sanitary Precautions
  17. Certification Program Levels and Advancement
  18. Appeals

Appendix A: Recognized Laboratories - Laboratories That Can Test Samples for the Voluntary Herd Certification Program

Appendix B: Fast Tracking - CWD Voluntary Herd Certification Program

Appendix C: Appeals Process

Part A: Overview of the Roles and Responsibilities of the Program

The objective of the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP) is to provide owners with the opportunity to have their herds identified as elite with respect to CWD. Membership in the certification program provides assurances to potential purchasers of animals that a purchase from a herd with the same level has the same risk of being infected with CWD. The level of assurance of CWD freedom depends on the length of time the herd has been enrolled in the program. Any owner of elk or deer premises who agrees to comply with the outlined provisions of the CWD VHCP may enroll.

As there is no test to diagnose CWD in live animals, CWD status is determined on a herd basis by testing every cervid that dies, the absence of clinical signs, and the lack of exposure to CWD over a designated period of time.

There are six levels in the certification program, from the entry level (Level E) to the highest level (certified). A minimum of five years is necessary for an enrolled herd to reach the certified level.

For the purposes of this program:

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the national administrator, is responsible for the following:

  • developing and setting the program standards;
  • consulting with provincial governments and industry;
  • reviewing regional programs to ensure that the program design is equivalent to the national standards;
  • auditing the implementation of regional programs;
  • approving laboratories to test for CWD, including design and implementation of a quality assurance program;
  • conducting confirmatory testing of all suspicious and positive samples tested in recognized laboratories;
  • publishing a national list of enrolled herds and their status, which is updated quarterly; and
  • negotiating to have international trading partners recognize the program, and endorsing CFIA export certification for regional certification programs that have been judged by the CFIA as meeting the national standards.

The regional administrator is the provincial authority in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, and British Columbia, and Scrapie Canada in those provinces that do not offer a voluntary herd certification program. The regional administrator is responsible for the following:

  • developing a program that meets the national standard;
  • developing a contract (application form), which is signed by the owner and the accredited veterinarian, that sets out the requirements to be met by the owner;
  • ensuring the contract includes a statement that protects the CFIA from any liability for the voluntary herd certification program;
  • enrolling, as members of the program, owners of premises on which deer or elk are kept;
  • developing the forms required for the program, including application forms, annual reports, inventory reports, and certificates;
  • appointing and training status assessors and program delivery staff;
  • informing members of developments in CWD and the certification program;
  • collecting and collating all data on enrolled herds in that region;
  • maintaining a data bank used for inventory;
  • producing an inventory report, based on the previous year's inventory, for use by the individual who is responsible for program delivery;
  • issuing certificates indicating the status of a herd;
  • issuing a certificate indicating that a cervid is a member of a herd enrolled in the certification program and indicating the status of the herd;
  • informing the CFIA of the status of all enrolled herds on a quarterly basis;
  • setting up an appeals process to exempt owners who failed to comply with testing requirements; and
  • setting up an appeals process for decisions made with respect to the voluntary herd certification program.

The status assessor is the provincial authority in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, and British Columbia, and the CFIA is the authority in areas where Scrapie Canada is the regional administrator. The status assessor is responsible for the following:

  • verifying reports such as initial and annual inventories;
  • approving applications, including the level at which the herd will enter the program;
  • approving all changes in status;
  • investigating irregularities;
  • suspending membership status, conducting hearings, and revoking status;
  • reporting to the regional administrator on the status of herds; and
  • implementing the appeal process to determine whether an exemption should be granted for owners who failed to comply with testing requirements.

Program delivery is carried out by veterinarians who are accredited by the CFIA for that purpose, or by provincial staff. The inventory portion of the initial or annual report may be conducted by CFIA staff, an animal health technician who is registered under the appropriate provincial licensing body and supervised by the accredited veterinarian, or staff of a provincial department or agency that is the regional administrator.

Program delivery personnel are responsible for the following:

  • reviewing the requirements of the program and responding to questions from the owner of the premises who is applying for, or enrolled in, the program;
  • teaching the owner to recognize the clinical signs of CWD, providing information on the epidemiology of the disease and herd management;
  • assessing the facilities on premises proposed for membership in the program;
  • conducting a herd inventory;
  • assessing the health of the herd to determine whether any cervid is demonstrating signs of CWD;
  • reconciling records to ensure that the herd meets the program requirements;
  • signing reports, including the annual inventory, and submitting them to the status assessor;
  • reporting any suspected case of CWD to the CFIA district veterinarian; and
  • collecting and submitting samples, if the owner has not sent them directly to the provincial laboratory.

A "recognized laboratory" is a laboratory that participates with the National TSE Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Network and that meets the guidelines set by the CFIA Laboratory Directorate for CWD testing on cervids. (Refer to Appendix A.)

Approved laboratories are responsible for the following:

  • collecting, preparing, and testing samples submitted for this program in accordance with the standard operating procedure provided by the CFIA Reference Laboratory for CWD;
  • participating in inter-laboratory quality assurance activities with the advice of the CFIA Reference Laboratory for CWD, as described in the Quality Guidelines of the Network;
  • providing the required forms;
  • notifying the owner, the status assessor, and the accredited veterinarian who is responsible for the herd about negative test results;
  • forwarding suspect samples to the CFIA CWD Reference Laboratory for confirmation (the results are not reported to the owner or accredited veterinarian);
  • providing appropriate shipping containers; and
  • assessing whether a sample is adequate to permit diagnosis of CWD and notifying the owner, status assessor, and accredited veterinarian of samples that are unsuitable.

Provincial laboratories that are not approved to test for CWD may collect and forward specimens to a recognized laboratory.

Owners are the persons who have responsibility for the care and handling of all cervids on a premises. Individuals who own or lease cervids, but do not have responsibility for all cervids on the premises, cannot apply for herd enrollment under the VHCP.

Owners are responsible for the following:

  • submitting samples from all cervids over 12 months of age that die;
  • maintaining facilities and fences, and meeting any provincial standards;
  • keeping records of all cervids on the premises and moving onto or off the premises;
  • employing an accredited veterinarian; and
  • conducting annual inventories.

Part B: Criteria

All voluntary herd certification programs must meet the following criteria:

1. Eligibility of herd – The certification program must be open to any owner of a premises on which cervids are kept, provided the owner and the premises meet the program requirements, and the owner of the premises has not had the right to participate in the herd certification program removed.

2. Eligibility of program – The program must meet the requirements of this certification standard.

3. Contract – The contract between the regional administrator and the owner of the premises must be signed. The premises must meet the requirements of the regional administrator's certification program. The contract must include a clause that protects the CFIA from any liability arising from the certification program.

4. All cervids on a premises must be included in the herd enrolled in the certification program, ownership notwithstanding.

5. Multiple premises may be listed under the same certification contract if the premises belong to the same owner and are located in proximity to each other, and if the premises collectively meet the requirements of the program. Nevertheless, transport permits from the CFIA are still required for any movements between the premises.

6. Facilities must be appropriate as follows:

  • allowing for the easy handling of cervids and for examination of all cervid identification devices, including CFIA Health of Animals (HofA) tags;
  • with fences adequate to prevent the escape of cervids and meeting any provincial standards; and
  • with a freezer adequate to freeze a cervid head.

7. Program delivery qualifications – A veterinarian who is trained and accredited by a provincial government or by the CFIA in program delivery must be on contract with the owner of the premises for the care of the cervids and for program delivery.

8. Information sharing requires that all herd information – including inventories, test results, movement permits, movement of embryos and semen, deaths, or sales relevant to CWD or to the population of the herd – be available to the owner, the CFIA, the appropriate provincial department or agency, the regional administrator, and the accredited veterinarian. The owner must also agree to allow publication of the herd status under the program.

9. Inventories (initial inventory and those conducted at the end of the first and second years of participation in the program) will be conducted by the accredited veterinarian, an animal health technician registered under the appropriate provincial licensing body and employed by the accredited veterinarian, or the staff of a provincial government department or agency. The inventory will identify all cervids on the premises. Once every three years, the CFIA will conduct the portion of the annual inventory for those animals undergoing the CFIA's triennial tuberculosis and brucellosis testing, and the accredited veterinarian will be responsible for the identification and inventory of any remaining animals and for the reconciliation and submission of the annual inventory report.

The initial inventory, the inventories at the end of the first and second years of participation, and every third inventory after will identify all cervids by comparing all identification devices, including the Health of Animals tags. Those inventories not conducted by a third party will be done by the producer and he/she may identify the cervids by the use of unique dangle tags which are visible at a distance. If for any reason the cervids cannot all be identified by viewing the dangle tag at a distance, the cervids must be identified accurately using the official tag.

The initial inventory must have been completed within three months of the time the application is submitted. Each annual inventory must be completed and reported within the three months of the anniversary of the initial inventory (anniversary quarter).

10. The annual inventory report is the responsibility of the program delivery person. The annual report lists the following:

  • all identification of each cervid on the premises at the time of the inventory;
  • all identification devices placed on each cervid, including the current calf crop and any cervids that have lost identification devices;
  • all cervids that have entered or left the premises since the last inventory;
  • all deaths or escapes;
  • the destination of every cervid moved off the premises, as established by a bill of sale or, if the animal has not been sold, a signed document showing the destination of the cervid; and
  • the test report for every cervid tested for CWD.

The report must account for every cervid over 12 months of age that died (within the standards set out in section 14, Diagnostic Submissions), and state that all the records that the owner is required to keep have been examined and found satisfactory.

The report must be forwarded to the status assessor within the anniversary quarter.

11. Identification is required for all cervids before they reach 11 months of age and by two unique identification devices, one of which is an official tag. Cervids must also be tagged if moved off the premises or if a change of ownership occurs.

12. Records are the responsibility of the regional administrator, who maintains a data bank with an inventory of all cervids on each enrolled premises and all the information necessary to determine that each cervid has been accounted for. The regional administrator will be responsible for producing a report which is sent to the program delivery person responsible for the premises, providing all the information from the previous annual inventory, at least one month before the start of the anniversary quarter.

The owner must keep detailed herd records of every cervid that is born on or enters the premises no matter who the owner is or who is responsible for the cervid. The records must be kept for a period of five years after the animal has left the herd or has died. The records must be made available to the program delivery person or the CFIA inspector at any reasonable time and must be presented at the time of each annual inventory.

For any animal purchased or moved onto or from a premises identified on the application form, the following animal records must be kept:

  • the animal's official identification numbers and any other identification;
  • sex;
  • species and any identifying marks;
  • date of birth (day, if available, month and year);
  • official identification number and any secondary ID of sire and dam, if known;
  • official identification number and any secondary ID and sex of progeny, if known;
  • if dead, the date and cause of death, and post-mortem and laboratory reports;
  • any movement permit required under section 76 of the Health of Animals Regulations;
  • if removed from the premises, the date of removal, the premises to which the animal was moved, and the name, address, and telephone number of the person to whom the animal was sold (owners are required to keep bills of sale); and
  • if an animal was brought into the herd:
    • source premises and certification program level,
    • name and address of the person from whom the animal was acquired, and
    • the day, month, and year.

13. The owner of a herd must report sick cervids to the accredited veterinarian for any illness in a cervid over 12 months of age, except a physical injury, lasting longer than two weeks. The accredited veterinarian will be responsible for monitoring the outcome of the case and for reporting the case to the CFIA if CWD is a differential diagnosis.

14. Diagnostic submissions for CWD testing require the heads of all cervids 12 months of age and older that die on the premises of an enrolled herd to be submitted immediately after death to an accredited veterinarian or recognized laboratory, with exceptions outlined in 14d). The head must retain all identification devices, must be cooled immediately, and, whenever possible, it should be submitted fresh.

When the cervid is not found immediately, or the accredited veterinarian or recognized laboratory will be unavailable, the head should be frozen immediately and submitted as a frozen specimen. This allows testing of cervids that might not be suitable otherwise.

Where the head is presented to an accredited veterinarian and there is no brain present to forward for testing, the accredited veterinarian will provide the owner with a letter certifying that the head was "submitted" and that no brain tissue was present to test.

The specimen must be submitted to a recognized laboratory for the immunohistochemistry test and must follow the methodology approved by the CFIA at the time of the test. All suspect test results will be confirmed by a CFIA laboratory, and the CFIA will be responsible for reporting the results to the owner.

If the brain is removed by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian or a provincial laboratory, it will not be counted as submitted.

14a) Handling the specimen – When removing the head from the body, all the flesh, including the spinal cord, should be cut cleanly 15 cm (6 inches) from the head. The spinal cord cannot be pulled or stretched, as this may damage the obex so that it will not be possible to test the brain in the proper manner.

Brains in which the obex of the medulla is not present will not be accepted as testable. The most likely reason for the failure to incude an obex is killing the cervid with a bullet in such as way as to destroy the obex. Owners should obtain specific instructions from their veterinarian or association as to how to shoot a cervid without destroying the obex.

The head must be cooled immediately, and if it is not possible to submit it immediately, the head should be frozen and not allowed to thaw until it reaches the recognized laboratory. This will allow testing of cervids that might not be suitable otherwise.

No matter what condition the head is in, it must be submitted to the recognized laboratory.

14b) Condition of specimens – Brains that are submitted to recognized laboratories in putrefied condition may be unacceptable for normal testing. A carcass that has deteriorated significantly may not allow for detection of brain tissue found, and thus no test will be possible.

The protein that is associated with CWD appears first in an area of the brain called the "obex of the medulla." That very specific location must be identified by the laboratory doing the test, in order to detect cervids that are in the earliest stages of the disease. In the final stages of CWD, the protein can be found in most parts of the brain.

When the correct area to test cannot be found, the ability to determine whether the cervid was infected is greatly reduced. The normal test of the brain of a cervid for CWD will identify animals which are in the early stages of the disease perhaps as long as one year before there are any signs of the disease. The test requires that the brain of the cervid be in good physical shape so that the anatomy of the brain can be used to identify the very specific area of the brain where the earliest stages of CWD can be seen. The most common reason for not being able to perform such a test is deterioration of the brain from heat.

When a cervid is in the final stages of CWD, the prion is identifiable throughout the brain and the test can be done on any part of the brain that can be found. Testing using this material will not identify cervids in the early stages of the disease. However, it will identify the cervids that are most likely to transmit CWD to other cervids. Ensuring that all cervids are tested to this standard will minimize the chances that a cervid in the herd has transmitted CWD to other cervids.

If the brain is damaged severely, the laboratory or accredited veterinarian may not be able to find brain tissue to test. Cervids submitted to the recognized laboratory in which brain tissue cannot be identified are not considered to have been tested.

14c) Results of analysis on cervids submitted for CWD testing

  1. Where the specimen submitted was adequate for diagnosis of early (incubating) CWD – diagnosis of "not incubating."

    "The obex of the medulla was stained using a CWD specific antibody and was negative for detectable pathological deposits.

    Based on the above results, the animal shows no signs that it was incubating CWD when it died."

  2. Where the specimen submitted had deteriorated sufficiently that the obex of the medulla could not be identified – "not in final stages."

    "The brain of the animal had undergone significant deterioration and the obex of the medulla could not be identified. Staining of the (name of the assumed anatomical region depending on the specimen submitted) portion of the brain available using a CWD specific antibody was negative for detectable pathological deposits.

    Based on the above results, it is impossible to determine whether the animal was in the early stage (incubation) of CWD; however, the animal shows no signs that it was in the final stages of CWD when it died."

  3. Where the specimen submitted did not have identifiable brain tissue – "not tested."

    "The specimen had undergone sufficient deterioration that it was impossible to identify brain tissue to test for CWD."

14d) Exemption from submission of heads – The status assessor should consider the following as automatic exemptions from the requirement to submit, unless the status assessor suspects that the conditions set out were not met or that the exemption is being abused to the detriment of the herd certification program:

  1. Destruction of cervids by fire
    • A certificate or letter from an appropriate fire official must accompany the herd report.
  2. Destruction and carrying away of the head of a cervid by a predator
    • A certificate or letter from an appropriate wildlife officer or other government official responsible for investigating such incidents must accompany the herd report.
  3. Theft
    • A report from the police officer who investigates the theft must accompany the herd report.
  4. Loss or destruction of the sample when it is no longer in the control of the owner (e.g. an accredited veterinarian or laboratory). Recognized laboratories should note upon receipt of the specimen that the obex is not present and the reason why.
    • A letter setting out the details of the loss of the sample by the individual who is responsible must accompany the herd report.
  5. Slaughter – Cervids that are slaughtered as part of a group of healthy animals in a provincial or federally inspected abattoir with a veterinarian present at the time of slaughter are exempt from this requirement. This exemption does not apply to a cervid slaughtered on an emergency basis. To ensure that a cervid is not considered to have been slaughtered on an emergency basis, arrangements must have been made at least two weeks in advance of the date of the slaughter.

    Include the following:

    • A document from the abattoir stating that arrangements had been made to slaughter the cervid or a transportation permit given by the CFIA listing the animals likely to be culled is required. Either of these documents must be acquired at least two weeks before the actual slaughter date.
    • A document from the veterinarian who was present when the cervid was slaughtered.

    If the above documents cannot be obtained, the owner should have the cervid tested.

    Carcasses or parts of carcasses of cervids tested for CWD must be held pending test results, and for that reason, arrangements must be made with the slaughterhouse before sending animals. The owners should consult with those responsible for inspection of the meat while making arrangements.

  6. Any other event over which the owner could not reasonably be expected to have control which results in the destruction or disappearance of the body, such as a flood.
    • A letter or report from an acceptable third party which sets out the details of the reason for failure to submit the sample must accompany the herd report.

15. Acquisitions, movements, and introduction of live cervids and genetic material – Acquisitions of live cervids and embryos must come from herds of an equivalent or higher level.

For the two first levels of the certification program, additions can only be made from five herds per year. Herds that exceed this limit are considered to be assembled herds and must re-enroll as such. Herds that are in the third, fourth or fifth level of the certification program or have reached certified status are exempt from this requirement.

Equivalent or higher status sources include the following:

  • Canadian herds enrolled at the same level of a herd certification program that has been assessed by the CFIA to meet the minimum national standards;
  • herds enrolled at an appropriate level of a herd certification program in another country or state of the United States, which has been assessed by the CFIA as equivalent to the Canadian minimum national standards; and
  • herds in countries assessed and recognized by the CFIA as free from CWD.

Acquisitions of live cervids or embryos from herds of a lower status will result in the lowering of the certification level to that of the source of the cervids.

National CWD herd certification status can be transferred to newly formed herds. Operators stocking a new domestic game farm will receive or inherit the lowest CWD status of the source animals upon their arrival. An on-farm inventory must be completed within four months of first arrival of animals on the domestic game farm. Status will not be attributed until the inventory is done.

Cervids can be sold at a live auction, provided that the district veterinarian is satisfied that steps will be taken to prevent direct contact with cervids of a lesser certification status. All cervids must be from enrolled herds whose status is greater than Level E. (After 2004 all cervids must be from Level C.)

Embryos collected within 18 months of the time the donor is diagnosed as positive for CWD shall not be used.

There is no evidence that semen can transmit CWD. Semen may be brought into the herd, provided that the requirements of the Health of Animals Regulations governing semen collection are met.

16. Sanitary precautions – Any cervid showing an illness of more than two weeks' duration is not to be moved off the premises or into contact with any cervid it has not previously been in contact with, unless the accredited veterinarian approves the movement for the purposes of treating the animal, and the movement will not expose any additional cervids.

If management practices include separating the year's calf crop from the yearlings or adults, no sick adult will be placed in the pens with the calves.

Every third-party vehicle that transports cervids must be cleaned and disinfected before loading the cervids. The owner will require the transporter to provide a statement that the truck was cleaned and disinfected, and will keep a copy of the statement.

17. Certification program levels – Owners will have the opportunity to apply for a level other than the initial level (Level E) if they meet the requirements of the certification program for that level (fast-tracking). The fast-track requirements are set out in Appendix B.

A herd's level upon acceptance into the certification program is based on the day the herd inventory is completed. The anniversary quarter is that quarter in any succeeding year.

If the herd is suspected or proven to be infected at any time during its membership, the herd will be investigated under the CFIA's CWD control program, and membership in the CWD VHCP will be automatically suspended.

Level E (the year between the initial inventory and first inventory)

A herd will retain its Level E status for one year. Herds that do not meet the requirement for submission of diagnostic samples from all cervids that cannot be accounted for in the first year will be suspended from the program until that requirement is met.

Levels D, C, B, and A

A herd will retain its status at each level for one year. Advancement will then be considered as outlined below, based on the annual report and inventory. Failure to submit an annual report for any level within 15 months of the time the herd reached that level will result in suspension of the herd from the CWD VHCP.

Certified herd level

Fully Certified – After a herd has been at Level A for one year, the herd will be considered certified and will remain at that level if the herd continues to comply with the conditions set for advancement in levels C, B and A. A herd will retain its certification status indefinitely if it meets the requirements of the CWD VHCP as shown by the annual inventory report. The criteria set out below for levels A, B, C and D also apply to the certified herd level. Failure to meet the requirements may result in suspension or revocation of the herd.

Advancement in Status Level

A herd in the program may advance one year in status if:
  • all eligible cervids (more than 12 months of age) that were in the herd or entered the herd in the period of time between the last and the current inventory are accounted for in the reconciliation of the herd in inventory, because the following is true:
    • they are alive and meet the conditions of section 15 of this standard,
    • they have been granted an exemption as set out in section 14d) of this standard, and
    • they died other than by slaughter;
  • between the initial and the first annual herd inventories and between the first and second inventories, 100% of the eligible cervids that died were tested (advancement to levels D and C);
  • during all subsequent periods between inventories, either:
    • all of the eligible cervids that have died have been tested, or
    • 80% of the cervids that have died (other than by slaughter) have been tested and 10% of the total eligible cervids in the herd have been tested following death or slaughter;
  • "tested" in this regard means a recognized laboratory has certified that, of the four cervid samples tested, three (75%) met the standard set out above as "not incubating." The fourth must meet the requirement "not in final stages."

The certificate of the recognized laboratory and an explanation as to why the brain was not submitted in acceptable condition must be attached to the herd report.

Herds that meet this requirement will advance to the next level.

A herd on the program will not advance if:
  • The herd has not met these requirements but specimens have been submitted for all cervids that died, and at least half are testable.

    Herds which are at the first two levels (D) and (E) of the program may stay in their current levels but will be suspended for one year until they have met the requirements to advance.

    Herds at levels (C) (B) (A) will not advance, but will stay at their current level for one year and certification will not be suspended.

If a herd does not meet the requirements to advance the next year, the herd will drop one year and its certification will be suspended.

A herd on the program will drop one level if:
  • It has not submitted all the specimens required but has submitted three out of four specimens and half are testable. Level E herds will not drop out of the program but will stay at that level of the program for one year. All herds will be suspended and investigated. If the herd does not meet the requirements to advance for the next year, the herd will drop one level and be suspended for that year.
Suspension

Herds whose certification is suspended will not be issued status certificates under the voluntary certification program for either the herd or the cervids in the herd and until the suspension is lifted. Consequently, they may not sell to other herds in the voluntary certification program. Suspension does not have any impact on the status of the herd for the CWD national eradication program, nor will it interfere with the issuance of movement permits except to note that the voluntary herd status is suspended, nor will it interfere with the ability to sell to producers who are not participating in the voluntary program.

A herd at any level will be suspended if:
  • It has failed to meet all of the above criteria – for instance, it has not submitted three out of four heads.
  • It does not meet the requirements to advance two years in a row or repeatedly fails to meet the requirements for advancing.
  • The status assessor believes that some other aspect of the program is not being met.

Suspended herds should be inspected by the status assessor to determine why the owner is not able to comply with the program. The inspection should include a discussion with the owner as to why this person cannot comply and to ensure that they understand the requirements of the voluntary program and that steps are taken to help the owner comply. Where it appears that the herd will not be able to comply with the requirements of the program, the status assessor should revoke the membership.

The herd will be reinstated after the herd meets the requirements of the program for a year, but only if the status assessor is satisfied that the owner will comply with the requirements of the program. Conditions may be imposed both during the year's suspension and in the first year after suspension.

18. Appeals

The owner can appeal a decision:

  • not to accept an automatic exemption refused;
  • that the specimen was assessed to be untestable;
  • to suspend or revoke a herd's status; and
  • to impose conditions before the herd is allowed to participate in the program after a suspension or revocation.

Appendix C provides additional information on the appeals process.

Appendix A: Recognized Laboratories - Laboratories That Can Test Samples for the Voluntary Herd Certification Program

Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Contact: Dr. B. Miller
Agri-Food Surveillance Systems, Food Safety Division
Main Floor, O.S. Longman Bldg.
6909 - 116 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6H 4P2

Animal Health Laboratory
Laboratory Services Division
University of Guelph
Box 3612
Door P2, Building 49, McIntosh Lane
Guelph, Ontario N1H 6R8
Telephone: 519-824-4120 (extention 4502)
Fascimile: 519-821-8072

Colorado Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
Contact: Dr. T. Spraker
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
USA

Prairie Diagnostic Services
Contact: Dr. K. West
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B4

Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory
Contact: Dr. E.S. Williams
Department of Veterinary Sciences
University of Wyoming
1174, Snowy Range Road
Laramie, Wyoming 82070
USA

Appendix B: Fast Tracking - CWD Voluntary Herd Certification Program

Fast tracking (grandfathering) is permitted for owners with cervid herds that have previously established programs equivalent to the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP).

1. Producers must have enrolled in a program before July 31, 2003.

2. Fast tracking will only be approved for the first two levels (i.e. the second or third level of the program).

3. The requirement for CWD testing of all mortalities would apply during the first two years that the herd is enrolled in the program.

4. The following requirements must be met for fast tracking:

  1. An initial inventory and an annual inventory must have been completed by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or provincial inspector, or an accredited veterinarian. For the purposes of grandfathering only, failure to individually identify calves born in the previous 12 months will not exclude them from being considered for advancement. In the case of any third-party inventories (after January 2003), it will be required to have all calves identified by an individual identification within the herd.
  2. Detailed herd records must be available, showing all movements into and out of the herd, natural increases, use of artificial insemination, and embryo transfer. All animals must be accounted for by their presence in the current herd, by documented sale to another producer or hunt farm, by export, by slaughter at an abattoir under the direct inspection of a veterinarian working for the federal or provincial government, or by an approved test on the brain of the deer or elk.
  3. The fast-tracking report must be signed by the veterinarian who is responsible for the herd, and state that the veterinarian has been responsible for the veterinary care of the herd and is unaware of any cervid that had symptoms of CWD or that died in the herd for the number of years requested.
    • All animals that died at over 12 months of age must have tested negative by immunohistochemistry. Animals slaughtered as part of a group in an abattoir under the direct supervision of a veterinarian employed by a federal or provincial government agency are exempt from this requirement.
    • There must not have been movement from any herd that does not have the same status (i.e. that has been fast-tracked to the same year).
    • The herd must not be under investigation or surveillance for CWD. Herds currently with surveillance animals under the CWD eradication program may apply to join the program and can be considered for grandfathering. However, any assigned status will be kept in suspension until all surveillance animals test negative or the surveillance animals are inspected by the CFIA and are healthy after the 60 months' surveillance.
    • All animals in the herd must have been identified by two unique tags, one of which is a Health of Animals tag or a tag approved by the provincial government.

Appendix C: Appeals Process

At the request of the owner, the administrator will appoint a committee of three to consider all appeals. The committee will consider all appeals and provide the status assessor with a recommendation as to whether or not the appeal meets the criteria and should be accepted. A representative of the status assessor will be the non-voting chair of the committee. A representative of the appropriate cervid organization may assist the committee in providing information related to the cervid industry. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may ask that a representative of the Agency observe the appeal as a non-voting member of the committee.

Each of the three individuals represents one of the following groups:

  1. an employee of the provincial veterinary authority;
  2. a representative of the provincial veterinary association;
  3. a professional employee of a college or university who is familiar with the cervid industry;
  4. a representative of a livestock association, other than one associated with the cervid industry;
  5. a representative of the provincial medical authorities, such as the officer of the provincial Medical Officer of Health;
  6. a representative of the provincial authority responsible for wildlife; and
  7. the representative of the status assessor from another certified herd program, either provincial or the CFIA.

The person who will make the decision for the status assessor will be the ex-officio chair of the committee.

The committee will recommend an exemption from the requirement to submit a specimen to the status assessor where, in spite of an appropriate management system, some unusual occurrence has caused the owner not to be able to submit a specimen. The committee, in considering the appeal, is considering the reason for failure to test the specific specimen, not determining the overall risk of the herd having CWD.

Requests for appeals will be in writing and will set out the reasons why the appeal should be considered. Where there is specific information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of the cervid or an incident in the herd, the request shall be countersigned by the practising veterinarian who is responsible for the herd.

The committee may consider requests for exemption in written form and need not meet in person.

Where the status assessor believes that the recommendation of the committee would jeopardize the status of the certified herd program, the status assessor may convene a further committee, consisting of a representative of the CFIA national animal health program and two other provincial veterinarians from provinces where the government is responsible for the program. A representative of the national cervid organization will be an ex-officio member of the committee.

13.6 Appendix 4: Program Administration and Status Assessment by Region

Region Regional Administrator Status Assessor
Alberta Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
780-638-2334
Contact: Dr. Keith Lehman
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
780-835-2238
Contact: Norma Pronteau
Manitoba Canadian Sheep Federation
1-866-534-1302
Contact: Claire Knubley
Canadian Sheep Federation
1-866-534-1302
Contact: Claire Knubley
Ontario Canadian Sheep Federation
1-866-534-1302
Contact: Claire Knubley
Canadian Sheep Federation
1-866-534-1302
Contact: Claire Knubley
Quebec Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec
1-888-222-6272
Contact: Isabelle McKenzie
Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec
1-888-222-6272
Contact: Isabelle McKenzie
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
306-787-2150
Contact: Graeme Mansfield
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
306-787-2150
Contact: Graeme Mansfield
Yukon Government of Yukon
1-867-393-7410
Contact: Randy Lamb
Government of Yukon
1-867-393-7410
Contact: Randy Lamb

British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces currently have no active program.

13.6 Appendix 5: Suggected Biosecurity Practices

The biosecurity and good management practices (GMPs) below are not currently a requirement of the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP). Canada faces a large challenge with CWD in that it is present in both wild and farmed animals in certain areas of the country, and that it is easily transmitted through direct and indirect contact.

Any producers who are looking for suggestions on ways to reduce the risk of CWD in their herd over and above current VHCP requirements (which include keeping detailed herd records, inventory, and accounting for movements of animals in and out) may find one or more of the following options useful.

These suggestions are based on the best available understanding of the science surrounding CWD and GMPs.

Record Keeping and Administration

  • Have a farm plan with a diagram that shows the locations of all pens, shelters, fences, feed storage areas, feeding and watering stations, and any natural water sources that are common with wildlife.
  • Keep visitor logs that record the movement of all people and vehicles onto and off of the premises.
  • Provide personnel training (i.e. a written and verbal program on-farm to educate and train, and retrain, all workers and family members), ensuring knowledge of all biosecurity principles and compliance with practices used on-farm.

Minimizing Direct (Animal-to-Animal) Transmission of CWD

  • Run the fence at least four times per year (or sooner if a problem is noticed) to ensure that it is intact.
  • Have other mechanisms in place to deter wild cervids from entering the premises (e.g. provide protection with dogs, keep feeding and watering stations away from fences, add one strand of electric fence outside the main fence, or install other double-fencing options).
  • Prohibit temporary commingling with animals outside of the herd, unless they are of equal, or higher, certification status (even for breeding or shows).

Minimizing Indirect Transmission of CWD

  • Use all disposable equipment only once (e.g. needles, syringes, gloves).
  • Clean and disinfect all other non-disposable equipment that comes into contact with bodily fluids (e.g. velveting tools), according to the guidelines in Module 13.6, Appendix 2.
  • Avoid bringing products or by-products of cervid origin onto the farm (e.g. supplements for velvet growth, attractants, baits, tissues, or carcasses).
  • Have dedicated personal equipment for use only on the enrolled farm (e.g. dedicate clean boots and coveralls for visitors only and separate ones for employees).
  • Protect feed from contamination by having a rodent control program in place. (Rodents can ingest and shed prions.)
  • Protect feed from contamination by storing it in a physically protected area that is away from wild cervids and other animals.
  • Bring in feed only from those areas that are non-endemic for CWD and from reliable sources.
  • Bring hay bales inside your fence in a timely manner to minimize the opportunity for hungry wild cervids to salivate or defecate on the feed source for farmed animals – which is especially important in the fall.

13.6 Appendix 6: Directive on CWD VHCP Laboratory-Related updates

59 Camelot Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

TAHD-DSAT-DCAW-2011-11-01

October 20, 2011

Memorandum to: Network Laboratories and Regional Administrators and Status Assessors for the Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program (CWD VHCP)

Subject: Update to clarify current samples collected, diagnostic test used, reporting, and approved laboratories on the CWD VHCP.

Background

Since the CWD VHCP was established in 2002, there have been many developments, including updates to the samples collected, the diagnostic screening test used, and approved laboratories on this program.

This directive provides a summary to all parties of the laboratory changes that should be in place since the release of the original national standards, to ensure that all procedures and reporting reflect the current sampling and testing, and submission to the appropriate laboratory. These changes are reflected in the CWD VHCP Module 13 of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual.

Effective Date: Immediately
Both the obex and the retropharyngeal lymph nodes (RPLN) must be submitted for all farmed cervids tested for CWD.

The primary target tissue tested for all members of the family Cervidae (with the exception of members of the genus Odocoileus), such as elk, red deer, reindeer, sika deer, and fallow deer, is the obex of the medulla.

The primary target tissue tested for Odocoileus species (including white-tailed deer and mule deer) is the RPLN.

The additional submitted tissues will be frozen and held by the laboratory until the initial test is completed.

The standard screening test for the CWD VHCP is currently the Bio-Rad ELISA, and reporting should reflect this.

Effective immediately, please ensure that the results of analysis for CWD are reported as follows.

Results of Analysis on Samples Submitted for CWD via Bio-Rad ELISA Testing

Tested: CWD not detected
(Where the specimen submitted contained the correct target tissue for the species being tested.)

The sample should be reported as follows: "Bio-Rad ELISA was negative for disease specific PrP (PrPCWD). Based on the tissue available for testing, this animal was unlikely to have died from CWD."

Tested: CWD not detected in secondary target tissue
(Where the specimen submitted did not contain the primary target tissue identified for the species being tested.)

The sample should be reported as follows: "Bio-Rad ELISA was negative for disease specific PrP (PrPCWD). Based on the tissue available for testing, this animal was unlikely to have died from CWD."

This may include the following:

  • samples from white-tailed and mule deer where the RPLN was not submitted but obex and/or brain is available for testing;
  • samples from elk where the obex was not submitted but the RPLN or another area of the brain is available for testing

Submitted: Unsuitable for testing
(Where the specimen submitted did not have identifiable brain or RPLN tissue available for testing, and a report for analysis is completed.)

The sample should be reported as "Submitted: Unsuitable for testing." This should be followed with an explanation as to the cause for this result.

This may include the following:

  • samples where tissues other than brain/obex or RPLN are received;
  • samples where a skull/head is submitted but no testable tissues are present.

Note: For the purposes of testing under the CWD VHCP, all samples being reported as "Tested: CWD not detected" and "Tested: CWD not detected in secondary target tissue" will be considered as "tested" when the herd is assessed for advancement within the program.

The following are the network laboratories currently approved by CFIA for CWD testing using Bio-Rad ELISA.

Note: The term "Recognized laboratories" has been changed to "CFIA approved laboratories."

Agri-Food Laboratories Branch
TSE Laboratory
6909 – 116th Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 4P2

Animal Health Laboratory
Laboratory Services (University of Guelph)
Ontario Veterinary College
Building 49, Box 3612
Guelph, Ontario  N1H 6R8

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives
Veterinary Services Branch
Veterinary Diagnostic Services
545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3T 5S6

Ministère de l'Agriculture des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ)
(French only)
Laboratoire d'epidemiosurveillance animale du Québec
3220 Sicotte Street
Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec  J2S 7X9

Prairie Diagnostic Services
Room 2604, Diagnostic Immunology Laboratory
52 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan  S7N 5B4

This directive will remain in effect until the CWD VHCP National Standards are updated to reflect these changes, or until it is superseded by another directive.

If you or your staff members have any concerns or questions, please contact Dr. Amanda Amaratunga or Dr. Aru Balachandran to discuss.

Sincerely,

Dr. Penny Greenwood
National Manager
Disease Control and Animal Welfare
Terrestrial Animal Health Division

Date modified: