CWD UPDATE 60 June 3, 2005

Scientists from the National Institute of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory report the discovery of a clue to what makes prions kill. Apparently the rough TSE prion must adhere to the cell membrane to be toxic to the animal it infects. Dr. Bruce Chesebro and colleagues genetically engineered mice that lacked the fatty anchor that usually binds prions to the surface of cells. Then both transgenic and normal mice were injected with scrapie-causing prions. The normal mice promptly got sick but the 128 transgenic mice have did not exhibit any signs of a prion related disease after 600 days. The so-far healthy mice are still being observed for additional signs of possible illness.

SEMARNAT, the wildlife agency of the Republic of Mexico, reports testing 107 captive cervids for CWD. All results were negative. The agency is planning on increasing their testing during 2005 for both captive and free-ranging cervids.

At the recent meeting of the U.S./Canada/Mexico Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, wildlife disease was the plenary session topic. Each country reported on initiatives for wildlife disease in their country. Canada has developed a national strategy for wildlife diseases (http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/cnwds/index_e.cfm) and Mexico is about 60% finished with their strategy. The U. S. is still discussing the need for such a strategy. All delegates at the meeting agreed that each country should develop a national wildlife disease plan and they should be coordinated into a North American Wildlife Disease Plan. The recommendation adopted by the Executive Table of the Trilateral reads: “The Parties of the Trilateral Committee have a shared interest in developing a consistent wildlife disease program which addresses prevention, early detection, rapid response, effective management, education, training and communication for diseases which may exist, emerge, or reemerge in wildlife. Such a program would enable each party to easily communicate and share data, information, and expertise on such diseases, and facilitate common policies when appropriate. We recommend that the Trilateral Committee encourage each country to quickly develop a comprehensive national wildlife disease plan, which can be integrated into a North American Wildlife Disease Management Plan.”

A final reminder of the upcoming 2nd International CWD Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin, to be held July 12-14, 2005. There are speakers lined up from the U. S., Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. More information can be found at the website http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/CWD/conference.htm.