Presentation Abstract

Title: What you always wanted to know about chronic wasting disease, but were afraid to ask
Session Title: Diseases Impacting Wildlife Conservation in North America
Session Number: 71
Session Time: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 8:30 AM -12:20 PM
Presentation Time: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 11:00 AM -11:20 AM
Author(s): Michael Samuel, 1 Contact:
Abstract Body: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in free-living cervids has been found in 16 states and two Canadian provinces, and continues to be discovered in new areas. The disease affects several important species of the North American cervids, with potential long-term social, economic, and management implications. In endemic areas, the disease continues to increase in prevalence and spread across the landscape. Several characteristics of this disease make it challenging to understand and difficult to manage. The agent is a nearly indestructible protein that can be transmitted between animals or through the environment. Animals have a long infectious period before disease signs can be recognized and during that time they can infect other susceptible deer. The disease is always fatal and there are currently no known cures or vaccines to prevent infection. Like similar diseases in sheep, cattle, and humans some animals have genetic resistance/susceptibility CWD, but there are no completely resistant genotypes. A common characteristic of CWD in deer is that infection rates are much higher in males than females, but the reason or long-term implications of this pattern are not well understood. In addition, the unknown origin of CWD and mechanisms of geographic spread make disease prevention difficult. In nearly all cases, management efforts to eradicate CWD have been unsuccessful, which suggests future spread and higher infection rates are likely. This presentation will review key biological features of CWD relative to deer ecology, discuss recent research findings, and discuss future concerns about CWD and big game management.

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