Information for hunters about chronic wasting disease (CWD)


Published 15.09.2016 | Modified 16.09.2016

CWD is a prion disease (a type of protein that is not broken down in the body) for cervids. As a hunter, you have a key role in helping to prevent the spread of infection and obtaining an overview of how widespread the disease is. This is a summary of what you need to know about chronic wasting disease in connection with the 2016 hunting season.

Lukk

Extensive review in 2016

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency plan to test around 15,000 cervids (moose, roe deer, red deer and reindeer) This means testing all cervids that have died or are killed as a result of illness or injury, including road kill, all over the country. In addition, tests are to be carried out on cervids killed during hunting in specified areas.


Tests will also be made at all game treatment stations and approved control locations (places where the Norwegian Food Safety Authority checks the slaughter), as well as slaughterhouses for herded reindeer and farmed red deer).

Chronic wasting disease is an animal disease that has a very low risk of infecting people. Recent analyses by the National Veterinary Institute indicate that there may potentially be two types of CWD in Norway.

The advice we have now received from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the National Veterinary Institute entails that we are now adopting an active precautionary approach to the meat from animals that have tested positive. There is very little risk of infection to people from animals or meat. Even so, to be on the safe side, meat from animals that have tested positive will not enter the food chain.

Hunters who have positive test results will be contacted by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, so that the meat and waste will be destroyed. You should therefore keep the meat and not distribute it until the test results are ready.

Test results will be issued on an ongoing basis and take 2 to 4 days.

As a hunter, you can find more detailed relevant information about the review here.

Hunters have a very important role in this review!

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency strongly urge all hunters and hunting parties to contribute to this review of the disease. Hunters play an important role in providing material for testing. If you are hunting in the areas where there will be a collection of material for CWD testing, it is important that you bring the head of the animal that has been shot (animals over 1 year old) to the collection site where the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency are organising testing.

Information regarding which areas will have collection places set up, where these are located and the time for collection will be provided locally by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the game administration services of the local municipality.

The results will be updated on an ongoing basis and may be found here.

In addition, we ask that hunters all over the country who deliver game to game treatment stations or have game checked at approved inspection places take the head along for testing purposes.

Hunters observing a dead, injured, ill or generally weak animal must notify this as soon as possible.

Notify the municipality in the case of moose, red deer and roe deer. In the case of wild reindeer you must notify the Directorate for Nature Management (SNO).

Frequently asked questions about chronic wasting disease:

What is chronic wasting disease?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an infectious disease that can affect cervids such as moose, red deer, roe deer and reindeer. The disease has previously only been found in the USA, Canada and South Korea. The symptoms include emaciation and abnormal behaviour. The disease always leads to the death of the animal.

How is CWD transmitted?

CWD can be spread through direct contact between diseased and healthy deer, or indirectly by animals coming into contact with an infectious agent in the environment. The infectious agent has been found in spittle, urine and faeces from diseased animals.

Is it safe to consume meat from cervids?

Chronic wasting disease is an animal disease that has a very low risk of infecting people. Recent analyses by the National Veterinary Institute indicate that there may potentially be two types of CWD in Norway. The advice we have now received from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the National Veterinary Institute entails that we are now adopting an active precautionary approach to the meat from animals that have tested positive. There is very little risk of the disease infecting people, but to be on the safe side to be on the safe side, meat from animals that have tested positive will not enter the food chain.

Hunters who have positive animals will be contacted by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, so that the meat and waste that are available will be destroyed. You should therefore keep the meat and not distribute it until the test results are ready.

Can I hunt as normal?

Yes you can, but we would ask you to remember a few things. The most important thing is that you must keep the carcase until the test results are ready.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is also keen to reduce the risk of spreading any infection in conjunction with hunting.  Because we as yet know very little about the spread of CWD, there are some measures that we recommend.

If it is possible for you to do so, we recommend that you bury or cover with stones any slaughter waste that is left behind at the site of the kill.

If you hunt in more than one area, we ask that, before moving from one area to another, you ensure that:

  • clothing, boots etc. that have been used for hunting are thoroughly cleaned/washed to remove visible remains of earth, slaughter waste, faeces etc.
  • equipment that is used for slaughter (knife, saw etc.) is cleaned thoroughly and disinfected using 2% sodium hypochlorite solution (for example 1 part “Klorin” + 1 part water) at a minimum of 20°C for one hour. Afterwards rinse the equipment thoroughly with water, since sodium hypochlorite is very corrosive and can damage it.

Can I get my animal tested for CWD even if I am not covered by the testing scheme?

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority will organise this as far as possible. Phone your nearest office of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority on 22 40 00 00 for information about what to do. A sample of the animal’s brain tissue is needed, so the head of the animal must be available.

Can a carcase be divided up if a sample has been sent for testing?

Yes, but you must keep track of where all the meat is. If the test result is positive, the meat must not be eaten. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority will contact you if the test is positive.

How do I know whether an animal I have shot has chronic wasting disease?

Cervids, including moose and reindeer, may have chronic wasting disease but no visible symptoms. If the disease has progressed far, you will recognise symptoms such as emaciation, abnormal behaviour and frequent urination.

When the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has taken a sample from the animal, it is sent to the National Veterinary Institute for analysis.

You can find test results on www.hjorteviltregisteret.no. If the test for CWD is positive, you will also be contacted by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

Test results should normally be ready after 2 to 4 days. It is important that the samples are correctly marked and sent in quickly. You should consider whether or not the place where the carcase is being kept is cold enough, in case the test results should be delayed.

Infection can spread to other animals from waste. It is therefore important that you do not throw waste away outdoors (apart from what may be left behind at the site of the kill). If the test for CWD is positive, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority will contact you and give you more information about what to do with the waste and carcase to reduce the risk of infecting other animals.

There is very little risk of infection to people from animals or meat. Even so, to be on the safe side, meat from animals that have tested positive will not enter the food chain, as a precaution.

I deliver animals for testing; should I, or must I, change my routines for discarding entrails?

If it is possible for you to do so, we recommend that you bury, or cover with stones, waste at the site of the kill.

If a hunting group shoots several animals on the same day, they are normally skinned and hung up in the same room. If one of them proves to have CWD, can the other carcases be used as normal?

Yes. It is important to keep a careful record of which carcase belongs to which test result. Carcases should preferably be hung separately until the test results are ready.

How should I treat game carcasses?

Use the normal hygiene routines for slaughter. Carcases or meat must always be marked, but can be kept as normal until the test results are ready. This will normally take 2 to 4 days.

Can I use lures from scents?

No. It is illegal to import, sell, purchase or use natural lures/scents from cervids from countries with CWD (Norway, USA, Canada and Korea), because the natural scent can carry the disease.

Can I place salt stones or food out for the cervids?

It is illegal to place salt stones or food out for cervids after 11 July 2016 in seven Norwegian counties:

  • Nord-Trøndelag
  • Sør-Trøndelag
  • Møre og Romsdal
  • Sogn og Fjordane
  • Hedmark
  • Oppland
  • Buskerud

The prohibition is there to prevent animals congregating in one place. The congregation of animals produces an increased risk of spreading the disease.

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