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Chronic Wasting Disease Testing in Game Farmed Animals

Reporting deaths

All deaths of cervids over 12 months of age, from any cause including slaughter, must be reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture within 24 hours of discovery.

Notify the Animal Health Unit

Call 306-787-6469 - If after regular business hours, a message may be left.

Chronic wasting disease is a federally reportable disease, which means the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) district veterinarian must be contacted if the disease is suspected in a farmed cervid. In addition, as of Nov. 15, 2019, it is a provincially reportable disease in Saskatchewan. All suspected or confirmed cases must be reported to the office of the provincial Chief Veterinary Officer within 24 hours.

As of April 1, 2018, only game farms that are on a national voluntary chronic wasting disease program will be quarantined, depopulated and compensated by CFIA. Check the CFIA's "Chronic Wasting Disease of Deer and Elk" page for more information. Farms with chronic wasting disease that are not eligible for CFIA's control program will come under provincial authority with measures taken to manage the disease. For testing on game farms where the disease has been confirmed, please follow the appropriate authority's testing requirements.

How to submit cervids for routine chronic wasting disease testing

A sample from every cervid 12 months of age and older that dies, regardless of the cause of death (including slaughter animals), must be submitted within 15 days of death. No matter what condition the head is in, it must be submitted for testing directly to Prairie Diagnostic Services or through a veterinarian.

When a cervid has died, the head must be cooled immediately. If it is not possible to submit it to immediately, the head should be frozen and not allowed to thaw until it reaches either Prairie Diagnostic Services or an accredited veterinarian. When freezing heads, it is important to ensure that all heads freeze quickly. All animal identifiers (e.g. ear tags) should be recorded and remain attached when the head is submitted for testing.

Submit cervid heads for testing regardless of their condition. If the head is considered not suitable for testing, either a veterinarian or the lab will need to provide written confirmation to Ministry of Agriculture for it to be considered a submitted untestable sample. Good-quality photographs may also be acceptable from the cervid operator if they show identification tags and condition of skull and, if possible, the location where the animal was found. Please contact the Animal Health Program Officer to discuss this option at 306-787-6469.

All deaths are to be reported on the birth/death report, which must be submitted annually. Deaths of calves/fawns under 12 months of age must also be reported if the animals have been included in your herd inventory. One submission form per dead animal is to be filled out and sent, unless the sample involves a large group of slaughter animals. Use the Multiple Submission form with slaughter groups or attach a list of the unique identifications of each cervid to the chronic wasting disease submission form (i.e. provincial tag and another tag of the producer's choice).

Hunters wanting to test wild deer, elk, moose and caribou for chronic wasting disease should visit the Ministry of Environment's Chronic Wasting Disease Information for Hunters webpage.

Remember: Meat or other parts from slaughter animals should not be released for human consumption until negative results are received. Although there is no known chronic wasting disease-related risk to humans, it is prudent to be cautious and protect venison markets until science is conclusive.

If the head/tissues are submitted to a veterinarian, it is the responsibility of the game farm owner/manager to ensure they are aware of the program requirements and given a copy of the information on this page and the Sample Collection and Submission Guidelines.

The cost of the laboratory analysis for chronic wasting disease will only be paid by the Ministry of Agriculture if the animal is 12 months of age or older.

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