There's some good news for elk and deer ranchers in the province, as a new testing procedure could soon be utilized to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in cervid populations.

Director of the Canadian Cervid Alliance Harvey Petracek says, the "Rectoanal Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue for Immunohistochemical Diagnosis test" or RAMALT test, is a diagnosis tool that's already seeing some heavy usage with other livestock.

"It's been used on sheep for Scrapies detection testing for several years, it's a proven type of test, with a new application for cervids, or deer species."

One of the biggest advantanges for the test, is its ability to be used on living animals, whereas with current testing, only dead animals are tested via brain sampling.

Petracek says, this test utilizes sampling from a living organism.

"The first test we have approved for use, is called a RAMALT test and what we do is we take a small sampling of the lymph glands which are located at the rectum of an animal. It's a proven type of test, but now its got a new type of application with the deer species."

While the test is entering entry level phases for application in Saskatchewan, Petracek says it's already been used consistently in other markets.

"Texas has been using this for a couple of years already. They've tested around 100,000 deer already with it and they've found it to be a very successful test."

Petracek says current methods of testing could lead to hundreds of uninfected animals being killed, if a single case of infection is identified in a herd, whereas this new strategy of testing can isolate only infected specimens and save ranchers uncountable expenses for the sake of biosecurity.

"There are cases we've had in the past for example, where we've had four or five hundred animals on a premise and only one animal turned up positive. So it was kind of a wasteful procedure to euthanize all those animals and find out the only animal that was carrying the disease was the one that was initially diagnosed."

While there is still work to be done in terms of rolling out an official testing system, Petracek says he's optimistic about the outlook for this procedures future applications.

"We're starting at square one with this and moving upwards. Hopefully we will continue to replace current practices with better and better tests."


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