Date of this Version
Prion, 9:367–375, 2015
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a geographically expanding prion disease of wild and captive cervids in North America. Disease can be transmitted directly, animal to animal, or indirectly via the environment. CWD contamination can occur residually in the environment via soil, water, and forage following deposition of bodily fluids such as urine, saliva, and feces, or by the decomposition of carcasses. Recent work has indicated that plants may even take up prions into the stems and leaves. When a carcass or gut pile is present in the environment, a large number of avian and mammalian species visit and consume the carrion. Additionally, predators like coyotes, likely select for disease-compromised cervids. Natural cross-species CWD transmission has not been documented, however, passage of infectious prion material has been observed in the feces of crows. In this study we evaluated the ability of CWD-infected brain material to pass through the gastrointestinal tract of coyotes (Canis latrans) following oral ingestion, and be infectious in a cervidized transgenic mouse model. Results from this study indicate that coyotes can pass infectious prions via their feces for at least 3 days post ingestion, demonstrating that mammalian scavengers could contribute to the translocation and contamination of CWD in the environment.