Submitted to: International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2007
Publication Date: 11/15/2007
Citation: Bessen, R.A., Hamir, A.N., Richt, J.A., Young, A. 2007. Chronic wasting disease [abstract]. International Conference on Emerging Zoonoses. p. 37. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an emerging prion disease of deer, elk, and moose in North America. This fatal neurodegenerative disease was first recognized 50 years ago and its distribution was limited to the Rocky Mountains for several decades. In the past few years, CWD has been found in the eastern U.S., Midwest states, the southwestern U.S., and in Canada. It is distinct from the other prion diseases of ruminants in that it can have a high prevalence in both free-ranging and captive cervids. As CWD spreads, there is a public health concern that it may transmit to humans who consume venison or to domestic ruminants that share common pasture with CWD-infected deer and elk. Transmission among cervids appears to be both horizontal and via environmental contamination. The sources of CWD infectivity linked to transmission are currently under investigation. To determine the site(s) of prion agent shedding in CWD, we examined the distribution of the prion agent in oral and nasal mucosal tissue from ruminants and rodents with experimental CWD and other prion diseases. We found prion infection in over 80% of these mucosal tissues and present a model for centrifugal spread of prions along cranial nerves to these mucosal sites where they could play a role in prion transmission.