Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in J Vet Diagn Invest 13:91–96 (2001)


To determine the transmissibility of chronic wasting disease (CWD) to cattle and to provide information about clinical course, lesions, and suitability of currently used diagnostic procedures for detection of CWD in cattle, 13 calves were inoculated intracerebrally with brain suspension from mule deer naturally affected with CWD. Between 24 and 27 months postinoculation, 3 animals became recumbent and were euthanized. Gross necropsies revealed emaciation in 2 animals and a large pulmonary abscess in the third. Brains were examined for protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting and for scrapie-associated fibrils (SAFs) by negative-stain electron microscopy. Microscopic lesions in the brain were subtle in 2 animals and absent in the third case. However, all 3 animals were positive for PrPres by immunohistochemistry and Western blot, and SAFs were detected in 2 of the animals. An uninoculated control animal euthanized during the same period did not have PrPres in its brain. These are preliminary observations from a currently in-progress experiment. Three years after the CWD challenge, the 10 remaining inoculated cattle are alive and apparently healthy. These preliminary findings demonstrate that diagnostic techniques currently used for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance would also detect CWD in cattle should it occur naturally.