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UNITED STATES ANIMAL HEALTH REPORT

by Dave Whittlesey

This year NAEBA was represented at USAHA by Dave Whittlesey (attending his 14th annual meeting and who also sits on the board of USAHA representing the elk industry), Steve Wolcott, Wade Hainstock, and Dr. Glen Zebarth. The annual USAHA meeting is where current animal health issues are discussed and recommendations to USDA are made. Generally the recommendations by USAHA are adopted by the USDA. In the past NAEBA has been successful in having Uniform Method and Rules approved for elk in the areas of TB and Brucellosis. These changes have made it easier for elk breeders when they are selling animals to breeders in other states.

This year there was a presentation regarding the possibility of a new form of blood TB test. It is still in the testing phase and will be about two years before it might be ready to look at for an alternative.

USDA announced that they were working on establishing a method of declaring states TB-free in cervids. This would result in a decreased amount of testing in order to keep TB herd status.

This year NAEBA entered a resolution establishing a herd certification for Chronic Wasting Disease. The resolution is as follows:

The USAHA requests that USDA-APHIS in cooperation with the States:

  1. Establish a herd certified status program for CWD in domestic elk, based on the "Model Program for the Surveillance, Control, and Eradication of CWD in Domestic Elk" as recommended by USAHA in 1998.
  2. Specifically allocate funds for CWD testing in captive cervids.
  3. Specifically allocate funds for SWD testing in free-ranging cervids.
  4. Conduct thorough epidemiologic investigations of CWD cases.
The USAHA supports increased funding of APHIS to pay for these activities.

Please note there is no approved Live-animal test yet for CWD. The Elk Research Council is funding such a test but it is a few years away from being completed. So beware of breeders saying that their herd is CWD tested. The only thing being done currently is monitoring herds by testing all deaths. The post mortem test appears to be very accurate. The incubation period for most if not all cases seems to be 24 to 30 months. No case has been seen at less than 17 months. Each year a herd is monitored increases the confidence level that CWD is not present (this does not include herd additions).

Herd Certification Program

A herd certification program does not make this a program disease like TB. A herd certification program would be voluntary at the federal level but some states would make it mandatory. There would be no federal requirement for interstate movement, although some states might require it.

Those of us who remember the TB cases in the early 1990s will recognize some similarities. In the beginning, breeders were nervous about doing whole herd tests because of the fear of finding disease and the fear of what disease in other herds would do to prices. Realizing that it would do no good to stick their head in the sand many breeders bit the bullet and started testing to achieve accredited herd status. These accredited herds then wanted to buy from other accredited herds. Over time more herds became accredited as the market paid a premium for elk from accredited herds. People will pay for peace of mind. We are going through a similar process with CWD.

The Recommendation:
Model Program for the Surveillance, Control, and Eradication of CWD in Domestic Elk
Minimum Recommended Guidelines

Herd Surveillance and Herd Monitoring Program
  1. States should have perimeter fencing requirements adequate to prevent ingress and egress of cervids.
  2. Surveillance based on testing of all deaths in animals over 16 months of age. Exemptions can be made with prior approval by the state veterinarian.
  3. Herd inventory reporting with annual verification by state or federal personnel or veterinarian.
  4. Herd status based on number of years under surveillance. Group so level A is one year, level B is two and three years, level C is four and five years, and level D is six years and above.
  5. Herd additions allowed from herds of equal or greater status.
  6. A positive herd diagnosis based on post-mortem brain testing confirmed by NVSL.
Herd Disposition
  1. Disposition of herd without evidence of transmission within herd as determined after epidemiological investigation by the state veterinarian. Herd plan developed by owner and state veterinarian, including the following guidelines:

    1. Herd inspection by state veterinarian’s personnel
    2. Herd inventory with annual verification
    3. Herd surveillance (mandatory death reporting and CWD testing for 5 years from last case)
    4. Separate high-risk animals (for example, pen mates of an affected animal for one year prior to the death of the affected animal)
    5. Put hold on high-risk animals for 48 months from last case OR Sacrifice high-risk animals and test for CWD

  2. Disposition of herd with evidence of transmission within herd as determined after epidemiological investigation by the state veterinarian. Herd plan developed by owner and state veterinarian, including the following guidelines:

    1. Herd inspection by state veterinarian personnel
    2. Herd inventory with annual verification
    3. Herd surveillance (mandatory death reporting and CWD testing for 5 years from last case)
    4. Separate high-risk animals (for example, pen mates of positive cases since first symptoms)
    5. Put hold on high-risk animals for 48 months from last case OR Sacrifice of high-risk animals and test for CWD
    6. Quarantine herd for 36 months from last case

  3. Disposition of trace herds: A trace back herd is any herd where an affected animal has resided up to 36 months prior to death. A trace-forward herd is any herd which has received animals from an affected herd within 30 months prior to the death of an affected animal. Herd plan developed by owner and state veterinarian, including the following guidelines:

    1. Herd inspection by state veterinarian personnel
    2. Herd inventory with annual verification
    3. Herd surveillance (mandatory death reporting and CWD testing for 3 years from last case)
    4. Separate high-risk animals (for example, pen mates of an affected animal for one year prior to the death of the affected animal) Put hold on high-risk animals for 48 months from last case OR Sacrifice of high-risk animals and test for CWD

Interstate and International Movement

State of origin must require all suspected or confirmed cases of CWD be reported to the state veterinarian. State of origin must have the authority to quarantine source herds and herds affected with or exposed to CWD. Animals will be accepted for movement if epidemiology based on vertical and horizontal transmission is in place and the above measures for disposition of positive and trace herds are being followed in state of origin.


 

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