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Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a chronic and fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects cervids, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. This disease belongs to a family of disease referred to as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Research suggests that TSEs are caused by an infectious, misfolded protein called a prion. Prions appear to convert normal proteins into an abnormal form that accumulates in the brain, destroying normal tissue, and eventually causing the brain to have a “spongy” appearance. For more information, please call CDEpi at (406)444-0273.

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a chronic and fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects cervids, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. This disease belongs to a family of disease referred to as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Research suggests that TSEs are caused by an infectious, misfolded protein called a prion. Prions appear to convert normal proteins into an abnormal form that accumulates in the brain, destroying normal tissue, and eventually causing the brain to have a “spongy” appearance.

Is CWD in Montana?

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) is working with the Department of Livestock and DPHHS to perform surveillance for CWD in free-ranging wildlife. Prior to November 8, 2017, the only documented emergence of CWD in Montana was detected in a captive game facility near Philipsburg, MT in 1999. That facility was depopulated and has remained vacant.

FWP started surveillance for CWD in wild cervids in 1998. As of November 15, a hunter-killed deer from a priority surveillance area was confirmed to have CWD. These areas have been identified as those at highest risk of becoming infected through the natural spread of the disease.

Please visit FWP's website for more information on this topic. 

General Resources

Healthcare Professional Resources - CWD and Human Prion Disease