Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in J Vet Diagn Invest 18:110–114 (2006)


To compare the genetic susceptibility of elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) with various alleles of the PRNP gene, which encodes the normal cellular prion protein, to chronic wasting disease (CWD), eight 8-monthold elk calves of 3 genotypes (2 132MM, 2 132LM, and 4 132LL) were orally dosed with CWD-infected brain material from elk. During postinoculation (PI) month 23, both 132MM elk had lost appetite, developed clinical signs of weight loss and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction, and were euthanized. Two other elk (both 132LM) developed similar clinical signs of disease and were euthanized during PI month 40. All 4 affected elk had microscopic lesions of spongiform encephalopathy (SE), and PrPres, the disease-associated form of the prion protein, was detected in their CNS and lymphoid tissues by use of immunohistochemical (IHC) and Western blot (WB) techniques. These findings indicate that elk with MM and LM at codon 132 are susceptible to orally inoculated CWD. All 4 LL elk are alive at PI year 4 and are clinically normal, which suggests that 132LL elk may have reduced susceptibility to oral infection with CWD-infected material or may have prolonged incubation time.