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CWD (Chronic Wasting disease) is spreading in the United States. It is an infectious disease affecting deer and elk, leaving them zombie like’, according to experts.

SOURCE: has already spread to 24 US states as of August 2019. The disease has been seen to affect animals such as reindeer, moose, elk and various deer species. It has been found in free-ranging deer and elk as well as farmed deer and elk.

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

cwd map

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer and members of the deer family. It is caused by an abnormally folded protein called a prion. The prion protein infects the animal by promoting conversion of normal cellular protein to the abnormal form. It affects the neurological system of the animal such as lymph nodes, spinal column and neural tissues, including the brain.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has an average incubation period of 2 to 4 years, meaning animals infected with CWD might not show signs of the disease for at least a year after exposure.

No treatment or vaccination has been made to cure it due, to the long incubation period. Existing tests for CWD can only detect the CWD prions once it has reached certain parts of the body.

CWD is highly infectious and very resistant to weather conditions and traditional disinfectants so it can remain in the environment for a long time. CWD can stick to soil particles for up to 10 years. – DEFRA

How can you tell if an animal has CWD?

antler carrier fallow deer

Due to the long incubation period, symptoms of CWD may not appear for at least 1-2 years after initial exposure. However, small changes in behaviour such as loss of fear in humans can often be one of the first symptoms noticed.

As the disease progresses, the most common symptoms seen in infected deer are as follows:

  • Emaciation
  • Excessive salivation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Excessive urination

During the final stages of the disease, the animal may display symptoms such as:

  • Dull expression
  • A shaggy hair coat
  • Exaggerated wide posture
  • Loss of balance (staggering)
  • Carrying the head and ears lowered.

How does it spread?

The spread of CWD is known to be transmitted through saliva, urine, blood, and faeces. Prions are known to persist and remain infectious in the environment for long periods of time

The natural movement of infected animals can spread CWD to many areas. Human-aided transportation of wild deer by hunters, or captive deer by farms further increase the risk of spreading of the disease.

How to prevent the spread of CWD

Web Deer 2bucks

As far as we know, CWD only affects deer, elk, and other members of the deer family. There is no current evidence to suggest that it can affect farm animals like cows and sheep, but it is still important to always take precaution in the case of disease outbreak.

For hunters, it is important that they take precaution when hunting in areas with known cases of CWD.

  • When field dressing a deer, wear rubber gloves when handling the meat.
  • Thoroughly sterilize any equipment used for field dressing.
  • Reduce how much you handle the animals organs, particularly the spinal cord tissues and the brain.
  • Do not shoot, eat or handle an animal that looks sick or is acting strangely
  • Do not handle or eat any deer found dead. (road-kill)
  • Carefully consider having the animal tested for CWD before you eat the meat.
  • Keep the carcass or remains away from any other animals to avoid cross contamination
  • Do not eat meat from an animal if it has been tested positive for CWD

It is important that extra care is taken on farms and for other commercial organisations, when monitoring their herds. Farms that do not have cases of CWD should take extra precaution when introducing any new animals onto the premises.

What are the regulations surrounding CWD?

Different states have their own regulations about how long an animal should be monitored before being moved to a new farm or facility. This is typically 5 years.

In a number of states, and deer or elk that die or go to slaughter at 16 months old or older, must be tested for CWD.

Any equipment such as food and water bowls, bedding material, any medical equipment used to treat the animal must be disposed of immediately to avoid contamination.

It is important that you report to your relevant state department if you suspect a deer on your farm is infected. Read more about CWD here

Incineration for disease control


CWD is highly infectious and is very easily spread. Disease control and bio security has never been more important.

Anything that has come into contact with an animal suspected of being infected with CWD should be destroyed and disposed of immediately to avoid contamination. This includes:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Bedding material
  • Feces
  • Medical equipment used to treat sick animals
  • Equipment or materials used in field-dressing

Why Choose INCINER8?


Having an incinerator on site allows for a rapid disposal of infected animals over a wide area with a reduction in the cross contamination risk. You also gain the benefit of full control over the process and peace of mind knowing that your farm and deer aren’t at risk of further infection.

INCINER8 have many years of experience dealing with bio-hazard emergencies and know the importance in providing the right products quickly to the right locations.

Our range of animal incinerators are suitable for disposing of animal carcasses and animal by products. All our incinerators are supplied fully serviced and ready to run. Our range of mobile incinerators allow for a quick disposal of infected animal waste over a large area.

For hunters, we provide a range of game waste incinerators that allow you to dispose of animal carcasses and related waste on-site. In cases of disease outbreak, incineration is the most bio-secure option.

If you are a local animal agency needing a quick, efficient waste solution, we offer a range of animal incinerators that allow you to process fallen stock and related waste. Incineration can help you reduce the risk of contamination and further spread of deadly diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease.

For more information on our range of animal incinerators, speak to one of our experts today.

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