Update on the first outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease of deer in a deer farm in Quebec
On November 23, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the discovery of four new positive red deer for Chronic Wasting Disease in a deer farm in the Province of Quebec. Since the CFIA ordered the destruction and testing of all deer from this farm in early October, a total of 7 infected deer have been documented, out of 1,356 deer examined. This update of the situation shows the importance of the actions that have been put in place to limit the risk of the spread of this disease in Quebec.
The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec (MFFP) announced that it will continue the targeted kill of free-ranging deer around the affected farm at least until mid-December. For now, no case of Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected in free-ranging cervids by the laboratory of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). Even if these results are encouraging, the number of free-ranging deer tested is still insufficient to exclude beyond doubt the presence of this disease in Quebec wildlife. Nevertheless, the absence of cases in wild cervids makes us think that the eradication of this disease from the Province of Quebec is still possible. In the event that this eradication program is successful, we will need to acknowledge the prompt and concerted interventions of the CFIA, MFFP and MAPAQ in face of this highly complex issue.
Chronic Wasting Disease of deer is a disease that affects captive and free-ranging deer. This condition, which is caused by a Prion (abnormal protein), is associated with significant free-ranging deer mortalities in areas where it is established (especially the Canadian and US prairies region east of the Rocky Mountains). This disease causes, among other things, a general loss of condition (emaciation) as well as changes in behavior. Although the vast majority of cases are diagnosed in deer (mule, black-tailed, and white-tailed) and in elk, moose and caribou can also be infected. Although this Prion does not seem to infect Humans, it is not recommended by Health Canada to eat meats from a positive animal. The case diagnosed on a Quebec farm at the beginning of September is of importance since it is the first case of this condition documented in eastern Canada. The origin of this isolated outbreak, which represents a significant threat to the wild cervid population in Quebec and adjacent provinces and states, remains to be determined.
For more informationon the control measures put in place:https://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/the-wildlife/chronic-wasting-disease-cervids/?lang=en http://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/MDC
Stéphane Lair, CWHC-Quebec