Chronic wasting disease (CWD) of cervids (deer, elk, moose) can be found in 26 US States, 3 Canadian provinces, South Korea, and Scandinavia. CWD belongs to a group of diseases that are caused by prions, infectious proteins that can infect new species. Monitoring, characterizing, and tracking progression of CWD across the US has not been possible because identification of distinct strains of CWD has been lacking. Although this understanding of the biology of prions has been well studied, prion researchers have been unable to study prion strains in multiple regions of the US because of the lack of availability of samples positive for CWD. Unfortunately, a centralized collection of CWD tissues is not currently available. The significance of this program is multifold. First, a repository of CWD field isolates from a wide-ranging geographic location in North America will allow, for the first time, the means to begin to assess the distribution and frequency of CWD strains in North America. Since prion strains can differ in pathogenicity and host range, this is essential data for the determination for risk of interspecies prion transmission to humans and to domestic livestock and wildlife. Second, this repository can provide uniform standardized CWD-infected and uninfected sources of tissue for diagnostic development, mitigation testing and for basic research purposes. Finally, the implementation of the repository will facilitate cooperation between the various state agencies that could lead to new collaborative efforts.
Supported By:Wildlife Disease Working Group