Chronic Wasting Disease

Protecting against the spread of CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease of the brain caused by protein infective agents called prions. The disease is always fatal and can have a significant impact on deer and elk populations; some infected wild herds have been reduced by more than 40% in just a few years. CWD is a complex disease and to date little progress has been made on a cure.

If unchecked, many experts believe it could financially decimate the deer and elk hunting and farming industries. Prions are shed in feces, urine and saliva. Transmission may be either direct, animal to animal, or indirect, through the deer or elk’s environment.

Federal and State Agencies have responded aggressively to the threat but to date have lacked the tools needed to contain and eventually eradicate CWD from captive deer and elk herds. CWD can be detected post-mortem using brain tissue, however non-SAWCorp pre-mortem tests are time consuming, invasive, stress the animals and are expensive. Current methods of testing live animals using immunohistochemical staining (IHC Staining) rely on difficult to secure tonsil or anal biopsies and are unable to detect CWD until the deer is exhibiting symptoms. The lack of easy to use, precise live animal tests have left ranchers, wildlife agencies and vets in a reactive position, hindering efforts to stop the spread of CWD.

The SAWCorp PMCA Prion Test for Deer and Elk

SAWCorp has introduced the first practical live animal blood test for Chronic Wasting Disease, CWD. SAWCorp’s prion test is able to identify CWD-infected deer and elk before they start showing symptoms, allowing ranchers, producers and Federal and State agencies to more quickly remove affected animals from the herd. For live and post-mortem tests, samples can be collected in the field by producers, hunters, ranchers, vets and government offices using a standard veterinary lab kits or a SAWCorp field collection kit which can be purchased from SAWCorp.

SAWCorp’s CWD test results cannot yet be used to satisfy USDA or state reporting requirements for herd owners. However the test can be used by herd owners for private screening of their herds. If you are interested in screening your herd, please contact us at