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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Virus and Prion Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336834

Title: White-Tailed Deer are Susceptible to the Agent of Sheep Scrapie after Experimental Oronasal Exposure

item Greenlee, Justin
item MOORE, SARAH - Orise Fellow
item Cassmann, Eric
item LAMBERT, ZOE - Orise Fellow
item Kokemuller, Robyn
item Smith, Jodi
item Kunkle, Robert
item KONG, QINGZHONG - Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)
item WEST GREENLEE, MARY - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that occurs in farmed and wild cervids (deer and elk) of North America, is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). TSEs are caused by infectious proteins called prions that are resistant to decontamination and environmental degradation. The origin of chronic wasting disease is not known, but it has many similarities to the TSE of sheep called scrapie. It has long been hypothesized that CWD could have arisen through transmission of sheep scrapie to deer. The purpose of this study was to determine if scrapie derived from sheep could be transmitted to white-tailed deer. This study reports that the deer inoculated with sheep scrapie developed clinical signs of TSE and that the abnormal prion protein could be detected in a wide range of neural and lymphoid tissues. These results indicate that deer may be susceptible to sheep scrapie if exposed to the disease in natural or agricultural settings . In addition, several strong similarities between CWD in white-tailed deer and the experimental cases of scrapie in white-tailed deer in this report suggest that it would be difficult to identify scrapie in deer were a case to occur. This information should be considered when developing plans to reduce or eliminate TSEs or advising farmers that wish to keep their deer herds free from prion diseases.

Technical Abstract: Scrapie is a prion disease of sheep and goats that is associated with widespread accumulation of abnormal prion protein (PrPSc) in the central nervous and lymphoid tissues. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is the natural prion disease of cervid species and is similar to scrapie in sheep. The purpose of this study was to determine susceptibility of white-tailed deer (WTD) to the scrapie agent. We inoculated WTD (n=5) by a concurrent oral and intranasal exposure with the scrapie agent from sheep and (n=6) with the scrapie agent from goats. All deer exposed to the agent of scrapie from sheep had evidence of PrPSc accumulation. PrPSc was detected in lymphoid tissues at preclinical time points, and deer necropsied after 28 months post-inoculation had clinical signs, spongiform lesions, and widespread distribution of PrPSc in neural and lymphoid tissues. Western blots done on samples from the brainstem, cerebellum, and lymph nodes of scrapie-infected WTD have a molecular profile similar to CWD and distinct from western blots of samples from the cerebral cortex, retina, or the original sheep scrapie inoculum. WTD are susceptible to the agent of scrapie from sheep and differentiation from CWD may be difficult.