Chronic Wasting Disease in wildlife

Alberta hunters play an important role in monitoring for chronic wasting disease, a serious illness that kills members of the deer family.


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a prion disease that infects members of the wild and farmed deer family. Once established, it is very difficult to control and is fatal in all cases. There is no treatment or vaccine. Prevention is the best solution, but early aggressive response is recommended when new incidents of CWD are detected.

Range of infection

  • In western North America, CWD primarily occurs in wild mule deer, farmed elk and farmed white-tailed deer.
  • In eastern regions, CWD is found in wild and farmed white-tailed deer and farmed elk.
  • Transmission occurs from deer to deer and in certain situations may involve environmental contamination.
  • There is no evidence that CWD infects humans or non-cervid livestock, but health authorities recommend taking precautions.