Chapter 13 – Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Programs
13.3 Accredited veterinarian's responsibilities – December 2021
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1. Obtain and read chapter 13 Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Programs of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual, including the National Standards for the Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Programs (CWD HCP).
2. Schedule a meeting with the local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) district veterinarian to review the terms and conditions for accreditation, and discuss the duties and procedures that the accredited veterinarian must follow for the delivery of a CWD HCP. This will include a review of the regional CWD HCP requirements.
3. A tutorial or a review of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) brain and lymph node sampling techniques in cervids is suggested at this time. Videos of TSE sampling techniques are available through the Public Health Agency of Canada's training platform. To access the videos:
- visit the public health training website
- choose desired language
- create an account
- fill in your profile
- you will receive an email to complete your registration
- complete the registration using the enrolment key C64A0123
- go to
- Learning Communities
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- Animal Health
- Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies/Encéphalopathie spongiforme transmissible
4. Establish a valid accreditation agreement with the CFIA for the delivery of the CWD HCPs. For more information on the Accredited Veterinarian program, refer to chapter 1 of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual.
5. Advise the cervid owner/cervid farm operator to contact the regional administrator (RA) to learn the requirements to participate in, advance, and maintain certification in the regional CWD HCP. Contact information for the current regional administrators is found in Appendix A of chapter 13 of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual.
6. Discuss the requirements of the CWD HCP with the owner/cervid farm operator. Assess the facilities, herd management, and record-keeping practices to gauge the degree to which the producer can be successful, and to identify any changes in record keeping or management that are necessary to meet CWD HCP requirements.
Note: the National Standards detail the minimum requirements of the CWD HCPs. Certain regions in Canada may have a standard that is higher than what is set out in the national standards. Obtain a copy of the regional CWD HCP from the regional administrator noting any differences in requirements over and above what is detailed in this manual. Periodically (at least once a year) speak with the regional administrator to obtain any updates to the regional program.
7. The accredited veterinarian's role in delivery of a CWD HCP is vital. The accredited veterinarian works closely with the owner/cervid farm operator to ensure that all CWD HCP requirements are met. Responsibilities of the accredited veterinarian include:
- reviewing CWD HCP requirements with owners/cervid farm operators, while ensuring the owners/cervid farm operators understand and can meet these requirements
- assessing the facilities, structures and management practices on a premises, and notifying the owner/cervid farm operator of any potential biosecurity concerns
- teaching owners/cervid farm operators to recognize clinical signs of CWD, to understand the epidemiology of CWD, and to prevent CWD through the use of husbandry skills
- ensuring that the owner/cervid farm operator is familiar with obligations to notify CWD as a reportable animal disease under the Health of Animals Act
- supervising approved third parties as necessary (accredited veterinarians engage approved third parties at their discretion)
- performing the annual inspection
- collecting and submitting samples, as may be requested
- checking records and signing any necessary reports, including initial CWD HCP application form and annual reports.
- ensuring that all verifications are true and accurate
- assessing the health of the herd to determine whether any cervid is demonstrating clinical signs of CWD
- notifying the CFIA of the existence of any cervid suspected of having CWD
Refer to section 1.4 Accredited veterinarians, approved third parties and sample collectors of the National Standards for more information on the roles and responsibilities of accredited veterinarians.
8. The CWD HCPs are carried out in co-operation with cervid owners, cervid farm operators, accredited veterinarians, provincial/territorial governments, industry stakeholder organisations, approved laboratories and the CFIA. The roles assumed by each of these organizations may vary in different provinces of Canada. Roles and responsibilities of each of these partners are listed in the CWD HCP National Standards:
- owner/cervid farm operator responsibilities include those listed in section 1.6 Owners/Cervid Farm Operators
- owners/cervid farm operators have overall responsibility for program compliance and ensuring program delivery
Inventories, annual inspection, and annual report
9. The accredited veterinarian must visit the enrolled herd at least once a year to conduct the annual inspection. The annual inspection must occur within 3 months of the anniversary date, and includes:
- visual inspection of the premises to verify that biosecurity requirements are met
- observation of the general health of the herd
- verification of the implementation of specific regional CWD HCP requirements, as determined by the status assessor
- verification of the inventory reconciliation
Refer to section 4.1.2 Annual Inspection of the National Standards for more information on the annual inspection.
10. An inventory must be conducted every year and must occur within 3 months of the anniversary date.
The third-party inventory is conducted at least every 3 years. The third-party inventory is conducted by the accredited veterinarian or by an approved third party (for example, an animal health technician who is registered under the appropriate provincial/territorial licensing body and supervised by an accredited veterinarian, provincial/territorial staff, CFIA inspector/veterinarian). Refer to section 1.4 Accredited veterinarians, approved third parties and sample collectors of the National Standards for more information on approved third parties.
During a third-party inventory, every live cervid in the herd 12 months of age and older must have its identity confirmed and be observed closely enough to check for any clinical signs of CWD.
A producer inventory may be conducted in the years when a third-party inventory is not required.
11. The reconciliation of inventories must be verified by the accredited veterinarian. Reconciliation of the current inventory with the previous year's inventory will account for every cervid 12 months of age or older and include supporting documentation, such as status certificates for introductions of live cervids and embryos, laboratory reports, bills of purchase and sale, and cervid movement permits.
Refer to section 3.9 of the National Standards for more information on documentation requirements and section 4.1.1 for more information on inventories.
12. The annual report is the responsibility of both the accredited veterinarian and the owner/cervid farm operator. The annual report contains the annual inspection report, the reconciliation of the inventories with supporting documentation, laboratory reports, and documentation related to biosecurity.
Refer to section 4.1.3 of the National Standards for more information on the annual report.
When the accredited veterinarian is satisfied that the annual report adequately documents all CWD HCP requirements, the report is signed and forwarded to the status assessor. The annual reported must be submitted within 3 months of the anniversary date.
13. Testing is the most important CWD HCP pillar. All cervids 12 months of age or greater that die, are humanely euthanized, or are hunted on farm must be tested for CWD. Refer to section 4.2.1 Annual surveillance requirements of the National Standards for more information on the testing requirements.
Laboratories approved by the CFIA for CWD testing are listed in Appendix D of chapter 13 of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual.
14. The obex of the medulla and the retropharyngeal lymph node must both be submitted for CWD testing. Refer to Appendix B of chapter 13 of the Accredited Veterinarian's Manual for sampling procedures.
15. The head of the cervid may be submitted directly to an approved laboratory by the owner/cervid farm operator or the accredited veterinarian may collect tissue samples for submission to the laboratory. In all cases, heads or tissue samples should be chilled or frozen immediately upon being found. The head of the cervid must bear all identification in situ and all samples must be accompanied by identification.
Note: required samples removed from the head by anyone other than an accredited veterinarian, appropriate provincial staff, provincial laboratory staff, a certified CWD sample collector, or a CFIA veterinarian/inspector will not be considered as submitted.
16. Owners/cervid farm operators are required to report to their accredited veterinarian any illness in a cervid 12 months of age and older lasting longer than 2 weeks that is refractory to treatment, except a physical injury that has lasted longer than two weeks and is improving at the normal or expected rate. The accredited veterinarian is responsible for monitoring progression of the reported cervid illness and for notifying the CFIA veterinary inspector if CWD remains on the rule out list.
Note: CWD is a reportable disease. If an animal exhibits signs for which CWD is a differential diagnosis, the local CFIA district office must be contacted.
17. An enrolled herd may introduce live cervids and embryos only from herds at an equivalent or higher CWD HCP status level with no negative impact on the CWD HCP status level of the recipient herd. Introductions from lower status or unenrolled herds will result in a downgrading of the herd's status level. Appropriate documentation is required for every cervid that is born on or enters the herd.
Refer to section 4.3, Limited Entry of the National Standards for more information regarding the restrictions on introductions to the herd.
18. The accredited veterinarian will work with the owner/cervid farm operator to review the regional CWD HCP biosecurity plan and identify any facilities or management changes required for successful implementation. The biosecurity plan will address risks posed by inadequate fencing, feed storage, water sources, vehicles, taxidermy and carcasses, and previously owned equipment.
Refer to section 4.4, Biosecurity of the National Standards for more information regarding biosecurity requirements.
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