Friday, May 13, 2011

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) outbreaks and surveillance program in the Republic of Korea

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) outbreaks and surveillance program in the Republic of Korea

Hyun-Joo Sohn, Yoon-Hee Lee, Min-jeong Kim, Eun-Im Yun, Hyo-Jin Kim, Won-Yong Lee, Dong-Seob Tark, In- Soo Cho, Foreign Animal Disease Research Division, National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, Republic of Korea

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been recognized as an important prion disease in native North America deer and Rocky mountain elks. The disease is a unique member of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which naturally affects only a few species. CWD had been limited to USA and Canada until 2000. On 28 December 2000, information from the Canadian government showed that a total of 95 elk had been exported from farms with CWD to Korea. These consisted of 23 elk in 1994 originating from the so-called “source farm” in Canada, and 72 elk in 1997, which had been held in pre export quarantine at the “source farm”.Based on export information of CWD suspected elk from Canada to Korea, CWD surveillance program was initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in 2001. All elks imported in 1997 were traced back, however elks imported in 1994 were impossible to identify. CWD control measures included stamping out of all animals in the affected farm, and thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises. In addition, nationwide clinical surveillance of Korean native cervids, and improved measures to ensure reporting of CWD suspect cases were implemented. Total of 9 elks were found to be affected. CWD was designated as a notifiable disease under the Act for Prevention of Livestock Epidemics in 2002. Additional CWD cases - 12 elks and 2 elks - were diagnosed in 2004 and 2005. Since February of 2005, when slaughtered elks were found to be positive, all slaughtered cervid for human consumption at abattoirs were designated as target of the CWD surveillance program. Currently, CWD laboratory testing is only conducted by National Reference Laboratory on CWD, which is the Foreign Animal Disease Division (FADD) of National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS). In July 2010, one out of 3 elks from Farm 1 which were slaughtered for the human consumption was confirmed as positive. Consequently, all cervid – 54 elks, 41 Sika deer and 5 Albino deer – were culled and one elk was found to be positive. Epidemiological investigations were conducted by Veterinary Epidemiology Division (VED) of NVRQS in collaboration with provincial veterinary services. Epidemiologically related farms were found as 3 farms and all cervid at these farms were culled and subjected to CWD diagnosis. Three elks and 5 crossbreeds (Red deer and Sika deer) were confirmed as positive at farm 2. All cervids at Farm 3 and Farm 4 – 15 elks and 47 elks – were culled and confirmed as negative. Further epidemiological investigations showed that these CWD outbreaks were linked to the importation of elks from Canada in 1994 based on circumstantial evidences. In December 2010, one elk was confirmed as positive at Farm 5. Consequently, all cervid – 3 elks, 11 Manchurian Sika deer and 20 Sika deer – were culled and one Manchurian Sika deer and seven Sika deer were found to be positive. This is the first report of CWD in these sub-species of deer. Epidemiological investigations found that the owner of the Farm 2 in CWD outbreaks in July 2010 had co-owned the Farm 5. In addition, it was newly revealed that one positive elk was introduced from Farm 6 of Jinju-si Gyeongsang Namdo. All cervid – 19 elks, 15 crossbreed (species unknown) and 64 Sika deer – of Farm 6 were culled, but all confirmed as negative. : Corresponding author: Dr. Hyun-Joo Sohn (+82-31-467-1867, E-mail:

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