1887

Abstract

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is the only naturally occurring transmissible spongiform encephalopathy affecting free-ranging wildlife populations. Transmission of CWD occurs by direct contact or through contaminated environments; however, little is known about the temporal patterns of CWD prion excretion and shedding in wild cervids. We tested the urine and faeces of three species of captive cervids (elk, mule and white-tailed deer) at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after oral inoculation to evaluate the temporal, species- and genotype-specific factors affecting the excretion of CWD prions. Although none of the animals exhibited clinical signs of CWD during the study, we determined that all three cervid species were excreting CWD prions by 6 months post-inoculation. Faecal samples were consistently positive for CWD prions for all three cervid species (88 %), and were more likely to be positive than urine samples (28 %). Cervids with genotypes encoding for the prion protein (PRNP) that were considered to be more susceptible to CWD were more likely to excrete CWD prions (94 %) than cervids with genotypes considered to be less susceptible (64 %). All cervids with CWD prions in their urine also had positive faeces (n=5), but the converse was not true. Our study is the first to demonstrate CWD prion excretion in urine by asymptomatic elk and mule deer. Our results indicate that the excretion of CWD prions in faeces and, to a lesser extent, urine may provide an important avenue for depositing prions in the environment.

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2017-07-15
2019-10-23
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