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Chronic Wasting Disease Essay

1687 words - 7 pages

Chronic Wasting Disease is a highly transmissible, deadly neurodegenerative disease that affects cervids in North America (Belay et al., 2004; Saunders et al., 2012). There are only four types of cervid that are known to get this disease which include elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and moose (Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance). It has been classified has a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), otherwise known as a prion disease (Belay et al., 2004). A prion is an irregular, pathogenic agent that causes abnormal folding of specific proteins called prion proteins. These proteins are mostly located in the brain (Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance). The abnormal folding of this protein ...view middle of the document...

, 2012). It was first discovered in a research facility containing captive mule deer located near Fort Collins, Colorado in 1967 (1, 2, 3). The first time it was identified in the wild was in elk near Este Park, Colorado in 1981(1, 3) Since it was first detected, CWD has been identified in fifteen US states, two Canadian provinces, and about one-hundred captive herds in South Korea (2, 4).
Because Chronic Wasting Disease continues to spread throughout the United States and Canada, surveillance programs have been put in place in most US states as well as Canadian in order to better detect CWD (Saunders et al., 2012). Management programs that have been put in place are mostly focusing on keeping the disease contained and to reduce its spread from endemic areas (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Once a cervid has started to show the clinical signs of Chronic Wasting Disease, the animal only lives for a few more months (Belay et al., 2004). Clinical Signs include weight loss, behavioral changes including altered stance, pacing, and hyper excitability, excessive salvation, difficulty swallowing, polydipsia, and polyuria (1, 4). Infected animals will continue to eat, but they consume less than is necessary which results in the deteriorating body condition (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The disease has been reported to occur in animals as young as 17 months of age or as old as 15 years of age. One source states that the average age for an animal to contract CWD was 2-7 years of age (Belay et al., 2004) while another source stated a narrower timeframe of 3-5 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Once an animal has become infected with CWD, death is inevitable. This can take anywhere from a few days to almost a year, however, most animals survive from a few weeks to a few months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Chronic Wasting Disease is transmitted through direct contact and contaminated feed and water sources (Belay et al., 2004). It is shed from an infected animal through urine, feces, saliva, blood, and even antler velvet. An infected animal can spread the disease before and after clinical signs have appeared (Saunders et al., 2012). It has also been hypothesized that soil and dust particles may also play a key role in the transmission of CWD. Deer tend to inhale and consume a large amount of soil and dust particles. CWD prions are able to bind to soil particles and retain the ability to replicate for an extended period of time (Saunders et al., 2012).
Other animals can become infected with TSEs by consuming food that has been contaminated by prions(MaWhinney et al., 2006). Though it is rare, cases of humans contracting CJD after consuming BSE contaminated meat have been documented. Because of this, concerns have been raised about the possible transmission of Chronic Wasting Disease to humans or other animals such as cattle or sheep (Belay et al., 2004). It is also believed that if CWD can...

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