Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/16/2009
Publication Date: 1/16/2009
Citation: Silva, C.J. 2009. Prion diseases: A little prevention can prevent a catastrophe. [Abstract]. AOAC AM-1 p1.
Technical Abstract: Chronic wasting disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) are two of the best known examples of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These diseases are characterized by a very long asymptomatic incubation period followed by a short disease course that ends in death. TSEs are caused by a novel molecular pathogen known as a prion. Prions are able to convert a normal cellular protein into a prion, thereby propagating an infection. A given host can propagate more than one strain of prion. Each prion strain has its own characteristic pathology, incubation time, and stability to different forms of inactivation. Prions have the ability to adapt to new hosts while retaining their distinct properties. Prions persist in the environment and survive most conventional forms of inactivation. The long asymptomatic incubation period of a TSE makes them difficult to control. The most successful approach to controlling a TSE requires the implementation of an enforceable feed ban coupled with postmortem testing of animals for the presence of TSEs. This twofold approach is the standard method of controlling BSE throughout the world. Feed microscopy is essential component of this twofold approach, for it is the major means of enforcing a feed ban.