Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Wildlife
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Wildlife Project

CWD shedding across cervid species and natural deposition

September 2011 - January 2014


Participating Agencies

  • USGS Biology

Potential management of CWD has been hindered by the lack of key pieces of information about disease transmission. First, little information exists about when and in what amounts infected animals shed CWD agent, thus infecting other animals and depositing agent into the environment. Second, although the environmental route of transmission is known to be important in captive deer, no information exists on potential environmental deposition by infectious deer or reservoirs of CWD infection for susceptible wild deer. The primary reason these issues have not been addressed is the lack of robust methods to detect CWD in animal or environmental samples. We have recently developed highly sensitive laboratory diagnostic methods that provide a practical solution to this problem. We will utilize these new methods to: 1) determine the time course and amount of CWD shedding by infected white-tailed deer, mule deer, and elk; 2) compare CWD shedding patterns among species; and 3) investigate potential environmental reservoirs of CWD.