Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in CVJ / VOL 51 / FEBRUARY 2010


Chronic wasting disease (CWD), an important emerging prion disease of cervids, is readily transmitted by intracerebral or oral inoculation from deer-to-deer and elk-to-elk, suggesting the latter is a natural route of exposure. Studies of host range susceptibility to oral infection, particularly of those species found in habitats where CWD currently exists are imperative. This report describes the experimental transmission of CWD to red deer following oral inoculation with infectious CWD material of elk origin. At 18 to 20 months post-inoculation, mild to moderate neurological signs and weight loss were observed and animals were euthanized and tested using 3 conventional immunological assays. The data indicate that red deer are susceptible to oral challenge and that tissues currently used for CWD diagnosis show strong abnormal prion (PrPCWD) accumulation. Widespread peripheral PrPCWD deposition involves lymphoreticular tissues, endocrine tissues, and cardiac muscle and suggests a potential source of prion infectivity, a means of horizontal transmission and carrier state.