The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota has launched a new online CIDRAP CWD Resource Center dedicated to educating the public, particularly hunters, the medical and public health communities, wildlife scientists and managers, and public policymakers and elected officials about chronic wasting disease (CWD).
CWD is a prion-related transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids, including deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose. It has been confirmed in at least 26 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, South Korea, Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a notable increase in the past five years.
The continued geographic spread of this disease increases the frequency of exposure to CWD prions among cervids, humans and other animal species. Although CWD has not yet been found to cause infections in humans, numerous health agencies advise that people should not consume CWD-positive animals.
The new online CWD Resource Center is part of CIDRAP’s Chronic Wasting Disease Response, Research and Policy Program, a national program responding to the CWD wildlife disease crisis and its potential for animal-to-human and human-to-human transmission.
Among its many resources, the CWD Resource Center has the most current information on all aspects of CWD epidemiology, prevention, research and policy, including:
• Twenty detailed frequently asked questions on CWD, including what is CWD, what are prions and what can hunters and others do to reduce exposure to CWD;
• Up-to-date CWD news from across North America and Europe;
• Summarized best CWD management practices published by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies;
• CWD maps from the U.S. Geological Survey;
• CWD information from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Europe;
• Legislative initiatives introduced in the United States to address CWD;
• Extensive links to CWD content on websites from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Quality Deer Management Association and others.
Members of the CWD Response, Research and Policy Program Advisory Group include 36 distinguished national and international experts and experienced professionals representing hunter groups, prion biology, diagnostics and epidemiology, wildlife management and health and human health.
A newsletter covering new findings or major events related to CWD is available for sign-up on the Resource Center.
“Our goal is to make the CIDRAP CWD Resource Center a comprehensive, one-stop resource on CWD complete with relevant and useful information for hunters, researchers, wildlife biologists, veterinarians, physicians, members of the media, and national, state or provincial policymakers or elected officials,” said Michael T. Osterholm, University of Minnesota Regents professor and director of CIDRAP.
Dr. Osterholm and a team of national and state experts in public health, wildlife diseases, prion research and laboratory diagnosis have urgently called for a comprehensive national strategy to reduce the risk for human exposure to CWD and to limit the risk of transmission of CWD among wildlife, particularly cervids and domestic animals.
They recommend several immediate steps that need to be taken. These steps were recently published in the journal mBio by the American Society for Microbiology.