Elk & Deer Health

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal, and degenerative neurological disease affecting cervids such as deer, elk, moose and other members of the cervid family. The disease was first discovered in captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has since been confirmed in approximately 25 states. CWD belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in the Hueco Mountains of far West Texas. In 2016, the first free-ranging exotic CWD susceptible species (Elk) tested positive for CWD in Dallam County. For details and chronology of CWD detections in Texas, visit TPWD's CWD Positives in Texas.

Exotic CWD Susceptible Species

Exotic CWD susceptible species are species that are non-native to Texas and have had at least one diagnosis of CWD confirmed by an official test conducted by a USDA-APHIS laboratory. This includes North American elk or wapiti, black tailed deer, red deer, reindeer, Sika deer, moose, and any associated subspecies and hybrids.

On May 30, 2017 new rules were put in place concerning surveillance and movement requirements for exotic CWD susceptible species.


CWD Herd Programs

The TAHC provides a voluntary herd status program for species that are susceptible to CWD. Those that participate in the program must have a herd inventory performed annually by a TAHC, USDA, or accredited veterinarian. For more information about the CWD herd program, call your TAHC region office or 800-550-8242 x777.

The USDA also has a voluntary herd certification program also, learn more by reading the USDA CWD Herd Certification Program Factsheet


CWD Management

There are regulations statewide for mandatory testing requirements of exotic CWD susceptible species such as elk, red deer, sika, moose, reindeer, and any associated subspecies and hybrids.

In response to the confirmation of CWD in a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Val Verde County on December 19,2019, the TAHC Executive Director established a CWD High Risk Area Containment Zone (CZ) in a portion of the affected area on December 20, 2019. For more information, click on the following links:

There are three other CWD Zones in Texas: Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, and South-Central Texas CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones. Visit the TPWD website for details, regulations, check station information, and carcass movement restrictions.

Postmortem Sample Collection

The TAHC Certified CWD Postmortem Sample Collector Authorized Personnel Program regulations and requirements apply to a person, other than an accredited veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Texas, who collects and submits samples for official post-mortem CWD testing in Texas.

If you have questions about this program, need to check your certification status, or if you are interested in signing up for an in person class, please contact us at authorized_personnel@tahc.texas.gov or call the Authorized Personnel Department at (512) 719-0732.

Vesicular Stomatitis

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle. VSV also can affect sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, swine, deer and some other species, including bobcats, raccoons and monkeys. Humans can also become infected with the disease when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event. Vesicular Stomatitis has been confirmed only in the Western Hemisphere. It is known to be an endemic disease in the warmer regions of North, Central, and South America, but outbreaks of the disease in other temperate geographic parts of the hemisphere occur sporadically.


Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease affecting deer, cattle, exotic livestock, horses, swine, dogs and humans. It is caused by Bacillus anthracis; a spore-forming bacteria. The bacteria can remain alive, but dormant in the soil for several years.

Anthrax is found worldwide, but in Texas, cases are most often confined to a triangular area bound by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass. This area includes portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney and Maverick Counties.

Fever Ticks

All Fever tick information is located on the TAHC Fever Ticks & Pests page.


Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can affect many mammals, including members of the cervidae family. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium bovis. It can be transmitted between livestock, humans, and other animals. The disease is spread through respiratory and oral secretions from infected animals.