Chronic wasting disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal nervous system disease that affects animals in the deer family. This includes deer, elk and moose. CWD is a prion disease, which is a rare, fatal, degenerative brain disorder.

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Risks to your health

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans. There has also not been direct evidence to suggest that CWD may be transmitted to humans. However, animal studies suggest that CWD may pose a risk to some types of non-human primates.

Minimizing your risk

Canada and provincial/territorial governments have taken measures to minimize your risk. Animals and meat products known to be contaminated by CWD are prevented from entering the marketplace.

In areas where CWD is known to exist in wild deer, elk and moose, warnings and precautions to hunters are provided.

CWD is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. All suspected cases must be reported immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. If you suspect an animal may be infected with CWD, please contact your local animal health office

Food and health products

Animals known to be infected with CWD should not be consumed.

If you are a hunter, you should take precautions when handling carcasses of deer, elk and moose.

Animals and related products known to be infected with CWD are prohibited from entering Canada's food supply. All deer taken to abattoirs in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and the Yukon are tested for CWD.

Deer and elk antler velvet are used in natural health products sold in Canada. To meet Natural Health Products Regulations, these products must be approved by Health Canada before they can be sold. Approval is based on a product's quality, safety and effectiveness.

To learn more about CWD and the risk to human health, contact our publications office or email us at to get an electronic copy of the document, Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) Risk Advisory Opinion: Potential Health Risks from Chronic Wasting Disease.

How we protect you

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the lead federal agency for CWD. We:

  • prevent the introduction or spread of certain diseases in Canada
  • establish national standards for and audit CWD voluntary herd certification programs for deer, moose and elk farms

To prevent the spread and control of human prion diseases in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada:

Health Canada:

  • assesses risks to your health from animal diseases that may be passed on from food and health products
  • develops regulations and policies to reduce the risks from products regulated under the Food and Drugs Act

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