Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

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Photo taken from YourErie.com – Posted February 28, 2019

https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/cwd-disease-management-area-to-expand-into-elk-range/1812569181

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is in a small family of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Prion illnesses.  Prions are cellular proteins and their function are not completely understood.

These diseases are characterised by long incubation periods followed by degenerative brain changes. In other words, it can take several years for the illness to manifest and is always fatal. No treatments are available.

Basic definition of what is a Prion

A prion is a protein with a specific sequence of amino acids. Not a virus or any other previously known infectious agent, but rather an unconventional agent. Prions are thought to transform normal, benign protein molecules into deadly ones by the “folding” of these sequences into a pathogenic agent. 

A Little history of some of the best known Prion Diseases

While most of the 11 known variants are fairly recent developments (as far as is known) one, SCARPIE, has been around for at least 3 centuries. 2 types of SCARPIE (Classical and Atypical) generally infect sheep and goats with some thoughts it could present in animals closely related to sheep and goats. 

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is better known as “Mad Cow Disease” Most of us older adults will remember the PANIC this cause around the world several decades ago and how it is still feared.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – a HUMAN Prion Disease – might be remembered from the reports concerning the ZIKA epidemic which is still going on.

I’ve been seeing reports on CWD for several years now but over the past year – year and a half there seems to have been an explosion in cases in numbers and affected areas.  We might be looking at  an almost extinction level event for a number of hoofed mammals in this country. Remember – it can take several years for symptom manifestation and it is NOT treatable.

 

 

 

 

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