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Captive Cervid

Health and Disease Information

Chronic Wasting Disease

Are you a Certified CWD Sample Collector? If so, please visit our new CWD Sample Collector Resources page!

9/7/2023 - CWD Sampling Training Opportunity: The Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare will be hosting a virtual meeting on the sample collection process for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This meeting is being held to provide information on future in-person training programs to teach proper sample collection techniques and aid in accurate CWD testing. Read the CWD Training Informational Letter for more details and to RSVP.  

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in deer and elk in certain parts of North America. CWD is caused by an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. Transmission between animals is likely by animal-to-animal contact and/or contamination of the habitat by a diseased animal. While related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease), CWD is a separate disease known to infect only deer and elk.

More CWD Resources:

Certified Monitored Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Program

The Illinois Department of Agriculture oversees the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) certification program within Illinois.  Any owner of CWD-susceptible species that will be selling these animals intra or interstate is required to be enrolled in the Certified Monitored CWD Herd Program.  CWD-susceptible species include white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, sika, Japanese deer, spotted deer, mule deer, reindeer, wapiti, moose and hybrid or these species. This program provides the requirements for keeping and moving farm-raised cervids. This includes registration, recordkeeping, disease testing, movement, and permit requirements.  

Any privately owned cervid regardless of participation or status in the Certified Monitored CWD Herd Program, that dies from an unknown cause and has exhibited neurologic symptoms must be tested for CWD.  This is accomplished by an accredited veterinarian removing the obex and medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes and submitting these samples for CWD testing to an approved laboratory. The official ear tag and accompanying skin must be submitted with the sample. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory is the only approved laboratory within Illinois.  However, an out of state lab may be used if the lab has obtained USDA approval for testing.  Any cervid exhibiting symptoms consistent with CWD must be separated and isolated from other members of the herd and will be quarantined until the animal is either destroyed or determined not to have CWD.  Animals quarantined for CWD will be subject to periodic inspection by Illinois Department of Agriculture personnel.
In order to enroll in the Certified Monitored CWD Herd Program, producers are required to review and complete the enrollment packet. The packet includes the CWD Certified Monitored Herd Agreement and CWD Initial Herd Inventory which must be completed and returned. (The Annual Herd Inventory form will be used for the initial inventory).  A summary of the requirements is below.  For full details refer to the enrollment packet.

Application for Enrollment:

CWD Certified Monitored Herd Enrollment Packet

CWD Certified Monitored Herd Annual Herd Survey *this form is only for current CWD Certified Monitored Herd owners that need to complete their annual herd survey.  

Summary of CWD Certified Monitored Herd Requirements

  • Each animal must be individually identified w

    ith a USDA-approved device
  • Each premises must have adequate fencing

  • Each premises must have a premises identification number (PIN)

  • Immediate reporting of the death, harvest, slaughter, escape, or disappearance of any cervid 12 months of age or older

  • Any Cervidae 12 months of age or older that die, are harvested, or slaughtered must be tested for CWD (request for an exception to this requirement for Program herds experiencing a hemorrhagic disease event can be found 

  • Herd owners must maintain accurate herd records at all times

  • Herd owners must complete an annual herd inventory

  • Additions to the herd must be sourced from other herds enrolled in the Certified Monitored CWD Herd Program or be subject to reduction in program status

  • All herds must comply with the provisions of the Illinois Diseased Animals Act and Rules

  • Movement of any cervid within Illinois requires a permit issued NO MORE THAN 72 hours in advance of the movement by the Department, and the animal must originate from a herd enrolled in the Certified Monitored CWD Herd Program

  • Movement of any cervid into Illinois requires the veterinarian completing the certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) to complete the request to import permit at least 72 hours before movement

  • Cervids entering or moving within Illinois for slaughter purposes require a permit issued by the Department within 72 hours of the shipmen



Brucella abortus (B. abortus) is a bacteria that causes Brucellosis primarily in cattle, bison, and swine, although cervids, sheep, goats, and horses are also susceptible.  It is a contagious disease that has significant consequences for animal and public health as well as international trade.  Infection in animals causes decreased milk production, weight loss, abortions, infertility, and lameness.  There is no cure for brucellosis.  Animals may recover but they often remain infected and capable of spreading the disease. Brucellosis is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans through contact with bodily fluids and infected tissues. Brucellosis can be avoided by proper sanitation and herd management. 

In 1954, Congressional funds were approved for a Cooperative State–Federal Brucellosis Eradication Program which has been successful in the eradication of bovine Brucellosis in domestic cattle, and bison in the U.S. with the exception of the Greater Yellowstone Area.  Captive/farmed cervids have not been a part of the national bovine brucellosis surveillance efforts.  As a result, Illinois like many other states has a state certification program with requirements for testing imported cervids.

Brucellosis Certification Program for Captive Cervids

To be considered for Brucellosis Certification herd owners must comply with the following requirements

Complete and return the Application for Brucellosis Certification in Cervid Herds

Initial Test: Pass two consecutive official tests for brucellosis with the second test being completed within 9-15 months after initial herd test on all test eligible animals. 

  • "Test eligible animals" for initial testing is defined as all sexually intact animals 6 months of age or older.

  • Newly assembled herds may be granted the brucellosis status of the source herd without initial testing. If animals originate from more than one Certified Brucellosis-Free herd, the newly assembled herd must assume the testing schedule of the herd with the oldest anniversary date

  • Brucellosis Certified Herd:  No testing required.  Recommended test 60 to 180 days after if no test prior to movement.

  • Other herds:

    • Test 30 days prior to movement

    • Test between 60-180 days after addition to the herd

    • As part of the whole herd test on recertification

  • "Test eligible animals " for recertification is defined as all sexually intact animals 12 months of age or older.

Application For Enrollment:


Tuberculosis is a contagious and zoonotic disease in animals and humans caused by a bacterium that is part of the Mycobacterium group.  Most species of farmed and free-ranging cervids are susceptible to Mycobacterium bovis (bTB), including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, red deer, fallow deer, and sika deer.  
Within the United States, APHIS regulates farmed/captive cervids under 9 CFR, part 77, subpart C, and the bovine TB (bTB) Uniform Methods and Rules, 1999.  The primary objective of the cervid bTB herd accreditation program is to eliminate M.bovis, the causative agent of bTB, in farmed/captive cervids.    
Tuberculosis Accreditation of cervid herds is granted by the USDA area office in Illinois.  Please contact them at 217-547-6030 to discuss how to obtain this classification.  Below is a link to the federal program.

Other Department of Agriculture Links:

External Resources