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Chapter 13 – Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Programs
13.2 Policy and principles of control – January 2020

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Policy statement

1. The national Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Programs (CWD HCP) are voluntary programs that cervid owners/cervid farm operators can choose to join. Any owner or operator of a licenced (where applicable) farmed cervid premises who agrees to comply with CWD HCP requirements may apply to enrol; however, once they are participating in a program, their compliance with the national standards is mandatory. CWD HCP requirements apply to all animals of the family Cervidae (including, but not limited to, animals of the genera Cervus, Odocoileus, Dama, Alces, Rangifer, and any hybrids).
The objectives of the CWD HCPs are to provide owners/cervid farm operators with:

There is recognition that the risk of CWD diminishes to low with progressive participation and successful annual advancement in a CWD HCP. Enrolment in a CWD HCP provides reasonable assurance that purchasing cervids from producers enrolled at an equal or higher CWD HCP status level maintains the farm's current level of risk specific to exposure to CWD. Import requirements of other countries for cervids may be based on enrolment or activities under a CWD HCP.

Statutory authority

2. CWD is a reportable disease under the Reportable Diseases Regulations, prescribed pursuant to section 2 of the Health of Animals Act. Any person who suspects an animal is demonstrating signs consistent with CWD must report that animal to a federal veterinarian at a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district office.
The primary role of the CFIA in the CWD HCPs is development of the National Standards, through the use of a consultative process, and audit of third-party administrators for compliance with these standards.

Export certification

3. Animals from herds enrolled in a CWD HCP may be certified and endorsed by the CFIA as participating in a program that meets the National Standards. The CFIA will work to gain international recognition of the National Standards. Certificates documenting participation and CWD HCP status level are obtained from the regional administrator.

Principles for disease control

4. Only a few viable tools exist to deal with CWD. There are currently no validated tests to definitively rule out CWD in live animals, either individually or as a herd. As a result, disease prevention is the most effective control measure. Cervid owners and cervid farm operators can mitigate the risk of CWD by participating in a CWD HCP.

The CWD HCP National Standards are founded on 4 pillars:

  1. maintenance of accurate, complete inventory records in which all cervids are accounted for
  2. ongoing testing of deaths and slaughter cervids
  3. limiting herd introductions to enrolled cervids of a similar or higher CWD HCP level
  4. the implementation of the Program biosecurity measures

A minimum of 5 years is necessary for an enrolled herd to reach the certified level.

The CFIA's CWD disease control program is based on the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) concept of compartmentalization. Compartmentalization identifies a group of animals having a distinct health status based on biosecurity management and husbandry practices. Herds enrolled on a CWD HCP may be recognized as Canada's compartment of "low risk" animals with respect to CWD. Promoting compartmentalization in the national disease response program supports cervid owners and cervid farm operators who are taking measures to keep CWD out of their farms.

A CWD suspect is any animal that has CWD as a differential diagnosis. The CFIA implements disease investigation procedures as soon as a clinical suspect is reported.

A CWD-positive animal is any animal in which CWD positive results were reported by the CFIA's National and OIE Reference Laboratory for CWD using at least 2 CFIA-approved CWD tests applied to lymphoid and/or brain tissues. The current CFIA-approved CWD tests are the Bio-Rad ELISA, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western Blot. All confirmed cases of CWD result in immediate suspension from the CWD HCP (if applicable).

Confirmation of CWD in a herd will trigger the CFIA's CWD disease response. Enrolled herds that have achieved level D or higher of a CWD HCP will be eligible for the CFIA's CWD HCP disease response, which includes movement controls, ordering destruction and disposal of infected herds, ordering cleaning and disinfection of contaminated premises, and providing compensation to producers. For more information on CFIA's CWD disease response, see chronic wasting disease – what to expect if your animals may be infected.
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