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.