reindeer walking through water David De Lossy/DigitalVision/Thinkstock

EFSA updates CWD detection methods, occurrence

Until now, little was known about occurrence of chronic wasting disease in Europe.

Diagnostic methods used in Norway detected chronic wasting disease (CWD) in reindeer, moose and red deer in 2016 and 2017, according to experts with the European Food Safety Administration (EFSA).

Until now, little was known about the efficacy of available methods for detecting the disease in Europe — since the disease has never been identified there — but the experience in Norway shows that the methods work, EFSA said.

Experts with EFSA assessed the limitations of the survey carried out between 2006 and 2010 and could not rule out the possibility that CWD was present in Europe before the survey was conducted, despite no cases being detected.

EFSA said Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden will start monitoring the disease this month following recommendations the agency made in 2017.

In January 2017, EFSA experts identified measures to prevent the introduction and spread of CWD into and within the European Union. They also assessed new evidence on possible public health risks.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which also includes scrapie in domesticated sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, transmissible mink encephalopathy in farmed mink and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

EFSA's Scientific Opinion on Chronic Wasting Disease (II) can be found online.

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