APHIS funds CWD control, management programs

As part of its ongoing effort to stem the spread of chronic wasting disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently awarded a total of $9.4 million to several states and Native American tribes for CWD management and response programs for wild and farmed cervids. The funding will also allow tribes to submit samples for testing at no cost.

“APHIS relies on close collaboration with our state and tribal partners to safeguard U.S. agriculture and natural resources, and controlling and preventing chronic wasting disease in our nation’s farmed and wild cervids is an increasingly important task,” said Kevin Shea, APHIS administrator, in an Oct. 12 press release. “These collaborative efforts will strengthen our ability to find and implement new solutions.”

Two deer in a field

Funding was awarded to 26 states and six tribes or tribal organizations. APHIS Veterinary Services based its funding allocations on priorities established with state agricultural and wildlife representatives, tribal officials, and the cervid industry. These projects will allow recipients to further develop and implement CWD management, response, and research activities in farmed and wild cervids, including surveillance and testing.

CWD is part of a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and has been identified in free-ranging and farmed cervid populations in 30 states since being recognized in 1967.

Similar to the causative agents of scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the agent responsible for CWD is thought to be a misfolded prion protein. Scientists have not yet completely characterized the CWD agent, however.

For projects to manage CWD in farmed cervids, APHIS Veterinary Services is awarding $4.8 million to 13 entities in 12 states (PDF). For wild cervids, APHIS Wildlife Services is awarding $4.1 million to 21 state departments of wildlife (PDF), $275,000 to tribes, and $275,000 for CWD surveillance on tribal lands (PDF).

For example, in the category of farmed cervids, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will receive about $250,000 for a project that will explore new uses for two in vitro cell-free amplification assays, protein misfolding cyclic amplification and real-time quaking-induced conversion, in prion strain discrimination and soil contamination.