Project Details

Layman's description

1. To increase understanding of the epidemiology of CWD strains detected in Europe and evaluate surveillance strategies, using sampling and population data from affected countries in Scandinavia.
2. To develop disease transmission models to predict the potential spread of CWD in Scandinavian reindeer populations.
3. To identify PRNP polymorphisms that might be associated with resistance to CWD in European cervids.
4. To assess the likelihood that prions from European CWD isolates can transmit to livestock species and humans, using in vitro and in vivo models.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an emerging disease of wild and farmed cervids (deer, moose, elk). It is a prion disease, similar to scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, which has spread rapidly across the USA and Canada, with devastating consequences for cervid populations in affected areas. More recently, the disease has made its way into Europe (Scandinavia), possibly through the transportation of infected livestock animals from Canada. This is worrying, as studies on European (including UK) cervid populations indicate that a high proportion of wild deer may be susceptible to CWD.

Although there is no evidence, to date, to suggest that CWD is zoonotic (can be spread to humans), recent reports of experimental transmission to primates gives us cause for concern - especially given that a similar prion disease, BSE (aka "mad cow disease") was transmitted to humans through consumption of contaminated beef in the 1980s/1990s; this resulted in over 200 deaths from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Thus, the zoonotic potential of CWD must be investigated to prevent the occurrence of a similar incident.

Key findings

Work in progress...
Effective start/end date1/04/21 → …


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