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Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer – Current Situation in Scotland

Chronic wasting disease belongs to a group of progressive fatal diseases of the central nervous system known as transmissable spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. The group also includes Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Scrapie in Sheep.

Chronic wasting disease has been diagnosed in mule deer, whit-tailed deer and elk, in limited areas of the Western United States, Canada and animals exported from those areas.

The disease is neurological involving possible changes in mental state, abnormalities of posture and weight loss. Animals are usually three to four years old when clinical signs appear, although cases have been recored in animals from 18 months to 13 years of age. The clinical disease usually lasts for several weeks is characterstically progressive and fatal.

Current Situation in Scotland

This disease has not been witnessed in Scotland.

A leaflet has been produced by Scottish Natural Heritage, in partnership with the Scottish Government and other members of the deer management round table which is aimed at raising awareness of the disease among key target groups, including hunters from the UK who visit North America, hosts and sporting agents who have guests from North America, and border control staff.  The leaflet can be found at the following link:

Chronic wasting disease – Protecting Scotland’s deer

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