Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Vet Pathol 39:110–119 (2002)


In this investigation, the nature and distribution of histologic lesions and immunohistochemical staining (IHC) of a proteinase-resistant prion protein were compared in free-ranging mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) dying of a naturally occurring spongiform encephalopathy (SE) and captive mule deer dying of chronic wasting disease (CWD). Sixteen free-ranging deer with SE, 12 free-ranging deer without SE, and 10 captive deer with CWD were examined at necropsy. Tissue sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, and duplicate sections were stained with a monoclonal antibody (F89/160.1.5). Histological lesions in the freeranging deer with SE and captive deer with CWD were found throughout the brain and spinal cord but were especially prominent in the myelencephalon, diencephalon, and rhinencephalon. The lesions were characterized by spongiform degeneration of gray matter neuropil, intracytoplasmic vacuolation and degeneration of neurons, and astrocytosis. IHC was found throughout the brain and retina of deer with SE and CWD. Positive IHC was found in lymphoid tissue of deer with SE and CWD. Histologic lesions and IHC were not found in multiple sections of integument, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and urogenital systems of deer with SE or CWD. Comparison of histologic lesions and IHC in tissues of free-ranging deer with those of captive deer provides strong evidence that these two diseases are indistinguishable morphologically.