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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Virus and Prion Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380582

Research Project: Pathobiology, Genetics, and Detection of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

Location: Virus and Prion Research

Title: Increased attack rates and decreased incubation periods in raccoons with chronic wasting disease passaged through meadow voles

item MOORE, SARA JO - Orise Fellow
item CARLSON, CHRISTINA - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item SCHNEIDER, JAY - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item JOHNSON, CHRISTOPHER - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Greenlee, Justin

Submitted to: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/13/2021
Publication Date: 4/20/2022
Citation: Moore, S., Carlson, C., Schneider, J., Johnson, C., Greenlee, J.J. 2022. Increased attack rates and decreased incubation periods in raccoons with chronic wasting disease passaged through meadow voles. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 28(4). Article 210271.

Interpretive Summary: Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are a group of fatal diseases caused by the accumulation of misfolded prion protein in the brain. Several livestock species including cattle, sheep, deer, and elk are afflicted by prion diseases. In sheep the disease is called scrapie. In deer and elk, the disease is called chronic wasting disease (CWD). Due to the human consumption of cervid meat products and intermingling of various livestock species with wild cervid populations, there is significant interest in characterizing the possible host range of CWD. This study reports the successful transmission of the CWD agent to raccoons, a ubiquitous omnivore present throughout North America. In addition, passage of the CWD agent from deer through meadow voles, a scavenger present in much of the range where CWD occurs, results in changes in the biological behavior of the CWD agent when that material is used to inoculate raccoons. This research is of interest to regulatory officials or anyone interested in controlling CWD in wildlife or captive cervid herds.

Technical Abstract: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a naturally-occurring neurodegenerative disease of cervids. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) and meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) have previously been shown to be susceptible to CWD and their scavenging habits could expose them to environmental CWD infectivity. To investigate the potential for transmission of the agent of CWD from white-tailed deer to voles and subsequently to raccoons, we intracranially inoculated raccoons with brain homogenate from a CWD-affected white-tailed deer (CWDWtd), or derivatives of this isolate after it had been passaged through voles one or five times. We found that passage of the CWDWtd isolate through voles led to a change in the biological behavior of the CWD agent, including increased attack rates and decreased incubation periods in raccoons. A better understanding of the dynamics of cross-species transmission of CWD prions will help us to better manage and control the spread of CWD in free-ranging and farmed cervid populations.