Chapter 13 – Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program – July 2017
13.3 Accredited Veterinarian's Responsibilities – July 2017

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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).
  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/cervid farm operator 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 by the accredited veterinarian, an official veterinarian (a veterinarian employed within a provincial/territorial department responsible for the administration of the regional VHCP), or an approved third party within the three month period immediately prior to acceptance of the application, as per Program Delivery below and Inventories/Inspections in Module 13.4.

  5. Advise owners/cervid farm operators 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 regional administrator (RA), noting any differences in requirements over and above what is detailed in this manual, as the regional CWD VHCP is the program which must be followed. Periodically (at least once a year) speak with the status assessor to obtain any new updates to the regional program.

Program Delivery

Owners/cervid farm operators have overall responsibility for program compliance and ensuring program delivery. Program delivery is carried out in collaboration with an accredited veterinarian or a provincial/territorial official veterinarian, with or without approved third parties, with each having a particular role. Veterinarians wishing to become accredited by the CFIA for the VHCP should contact their CFIA district veterinarian.

Accredited veterinarians are accredited by the CFIA or the appropriate Regional Administrator's provincial/territorial government (where a provincial/territorial accreditation process exists). Official veterinarians are employed within a provincial/territorial department responsible for the administration of the regional VHCP. Accredited veterinarians and official veterinarians are authorized to conduct all aspects of program delivery, including performing the physical inventories, annual inspections, and sample collection. Accredited veterinarians or official veterinarians are specifically responsible for the health of the cervid herd and program biosecurity measures (standards) which are designed to prevent CWD entering cervid herds enrolled in the VHCP. This role may also be filled by trained and qualified provincial/territorial staff of the VHCP department (e.g. game farm inspectors, etc.).

General Overview of Accredited Veterinarian's Responsibilities

Accredited veterinarians under this program are responsible for the following:

  • reviewing the requirements of the VHCP and responding to questions from the owner/cervid farm operator applying for or enrolled in the VHCP;
  • verifying the accuracy of the site plan and noting any potential biosecurity concerns which may impact the CWD health of the herd;
  • assessing the actual facilities and structures (as indicated on the site plan) on a premises proposed for enrolment in the VHCP, and verifying their compliance to program standards;
  • verifying that the CWD VHCP biosecurity requirements are being maintained as per the regional SOP in particular regarding fencing, water sourcing, feed storage, transportation vehicles, etc. to ensure the farmed cervids are not exposed to either direct or indirect transmission of CWD prion;
  • teaching the owner/cervid farm operator to recognize the clinical signs of CWD, and providing information on the epidemiology of the disease and herd management to prevent CWD;
  • conducting or supervising the herd inventory (including the physical inventory), and performing the annual inspection;
  • assessing the health of the herd to determine whether any cervid is demonstrating clinical signs of CWD;
  • immediately notifying the CFIA of the existence of any cervid suspected of having CWD;
  • collecting and submitting tissue samples from dead cervids or those that are destroyed, as may be requested;
  • ensuring that, for all cervids presented for CWD sampling, all identification devices have been verified in situ;
  • verifying that all VHCP requirements are met, including verifying the reconciliation of the inventory; and
  • checking records, signing any necessary reports, including initial VHCP application form and annual reports.

Approved third parties are approved by the regional administrator as eligible Program deliverers, and are trained and qualified to deliver certain aspects of the VHCP. Approved third parties may be staff of a provincial/territorial department or agency, an animal health technician who is registered under the appropriate provincial/territorial licensing body and supervised by an accredited veterinarian, or a CFIA veterinarian or inspector. Approved third parties are trained, qualified and approved for:

  • performing annual inventories - counting all cervids and recording at least one unique identifier for each cervid on a premises;
  • performing physical inventories - counting all cervids and recording all identification devices. Any cervids showing signs of ill-health are identified to the accredited veterinarian or official veterinarian for further examination; and
  • checking fences, if required.

A certified CWD sample collector is an individual who has completed appropriate training and is certified by the regional administrator as authorized to collect samples for CWD testing. A certified CWD sample collector may be an approved third party or a cervid farm operator. He/she must operate at arm's length from the owner/cervid farm operator and may not collect samples from his/her own animals. A certified CWD sample collector is responsible for ensuring that, for all cervids presented for sample collection, all identification devices have been verified in situ.

Producer Responsibilities

Owners/cervid farm operators are persons who have responsibility for the daily care and handling of all cervids on a premises. It is the owner's/cervid farm operator's responsibility to comply with the CWD VHCP requirements (see Module 13.6, Appendix 3). Owners/cervid farm operators are responsible for the following:

  • submitting a site plan with the initial application, or within the first assessment year. The site plan will identify all structures and grazing areas on a premises to which the farmed cervids are given access, and that are used to store feed for cervids. The location of water sources, proximity to other farmed cervid herds and location of fences must also be included;
  • procuring the services of an accredited veterinarian or official veterinarian, or trained and qualified provincial/territorial VHCP staff, with or without approved third parties (as in section 1.4 of the National Standards––Program Delivery) to deliver the VHCP;
  • identifying each cervid in the herd with at least two unique identification devices, one of which is an official device, and one of which can be read from a distance, before each cervid reaches the age of 12 months;
  • maintaining fences that meet any applicable (federal, provincial/territorial) standards in a manner to prevent intrusion (ingress) or escape (egress) of cervids;
  • providing the necessary facilities and assisting the accredited veterinarian or official veterinarian or provincial/territorial VHCP staff with inspection and handling of cervids for inventories and annual inspections;
  • reporting quarterly, to the status assessor and the appropriate provincial/territorial Ministry, the death of any cervid(s) 12 months of age and older;
  • submitting the appropriate tissue samples (head) for laboratory analysis, or presenting the head for sampling to a certified CWD sample collector, with the appropriate identification maintained in situ.
  • ensuring that good-quality tissue samples are collected and submitted. The head or the sample should be chilled or frozen immediately (see section 4.2.5 of the National Standards);
  • reporting immediately to the CFIA district veterinarian any cervid suspected of being clinically affected by CWD;
  • reporting to the status assessor and the appropriate provincial/territorial Ministry, any cervids that have escaped, disappear or are otherwise missing from the premises as per the protocol outlined in the SOP;
  • reporting immediately, or with reasonable promptness, to the status assessor and the appropriate provincial Ministry, the entry of any wild cervids into the facility;
  • obtaining, maintaining and compiling all relevant documentation of cervid acquisitions, births, and departures (keeping records as per section 3.11 of the National Standards);
  • agreeing, with reasonable notice, to make the cervids and records available so that the accredited veterinarian, the provincial/territorial regulatory agency, the regional administrator/status assessor and/or the CFIA can inspect them;
  • storing feed in a manner that it is not accessible to wild cervids (see section 4.4.3 of the National Standards);
  • sourcing water in a manner that it is not accessible to wild cervids (see section 4.4.4 of the National Standards);
  • not accepting onto the premises carcasses or parts from wild cervids, or farmed cervids with lower or no status under a VHCP, for processing or taxidermy (see section 4.4.5 of the National Standards);
  • ensuring that every third-party vehicle that transports farmed cervids, and every farm vehicle that is used to transport farmed cervids from other premises, is cleaned and/or disinfected (see definition) before loading cervids (see section 4.4.6 of the National Standards); and
  • if stocking a new herd on a new premises for the purpose of retaining a higher status, determining whether cervids have been contained on the premises in the past, and if so, determining if they were on the VHCP, and at what level (see section 2.1 of the National Standards).

Any changes to the operation/premises, including the accredited veterinarian, must be reported to the regional administrator and/or status assessor. Documentation must be included in the owner/cervid farm operator's registration file.

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