Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal, neurological illness occurring in North American cervids (members of the deer family), including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. Since its discovery in 1967, CWD has spread geographically and increased in prevalence locally. CWD is contagious; it can be transmitted freely within and among cervid populations. No treatments or vaccines are currently available.
Chronic wasting disease is of great concern to wildlife managers. It has been detected in at least 23 states, two Canadian provinces, and South Korea. CWD is not known to infect livestock or humans.
CWD is transmitted directly through animal-to-animal contact, and indirectly through contact with objects or environment contaminated with infectious material (including saliva, urine, feces, and carcasses of CWD-infected animals).