USDA Implements Chronic Wasting Disease Program

  by Kimberley Smith (301) 734-6464, Jerry Redding (202) 720-6959

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2001-The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the authorization of $2.6 million from Commodity Credit Corporation funds to implement a chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance and indemnity program in the United States.

While considered rare, CWD is endemic to free-ranging deer and elk in a limited area of southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, and southwestern Nebraska. CWD has also been found in captive elk herds in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. All positive herds are under state quarantines.

This transfer of emergency funds will be used to reduce the spread of CWD in captive elk herds.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will implement the CWD program by purchasing positive and exposed elk from CWD-infected herds, enhance surveillance and diagnostic testing for CWD, and increase training for producers and veterinarians.

There is currently no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans, or in domestic animals other than deer and elk. CWD is a progressive disease that affects deer and elk. CWD is part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, a group that includes scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Currently, there is no live animal test or vaccine for CWD.

The USDA policy on TSE's has been to be proactive and preventative. The USDA continually monitors and assesses all ongoing events and research findings regarding TSE's, as new information and knowledge may lead to revised conclusions and prevention measures.

USDA continues to enhance these important infrastructure programs by taking a proactive approach to monitoring, controlling, and eradicating TSE's. USDA is committed to strengthening various plant and animal pest and disease prevention and erradication programs, which is in effect, are the backbone of the food and agricultural system. In this effort, USDA is also focusing on research and appropriate program modernization to keep pace with continuously emerging and often unique challenges.

Notice of this action is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 27 Federal Register and becomes effective immediately. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related information including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at:

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