CWD UPDATE 64 September 23, 2005

The government of Alberta has announced that they have selected an international panel of experts in prion disease to form the Alberta Prion Research Institute Advisory Council. This group will advise the group on proposals for use of the $38 million provided for the initiative. This group includes scientists from Canada, the U. S., United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Germany. The council will meet in early October to review the first round of proposals. Dr. Joe Martin, Dean of Medicine at Harvard University and chairman of the Council announced that project funding is expected to be announced in February of 2006. The deadline for final project proposals is December 1, 2005 and additional information can be found at the Alberta Prion Research Institute web site at http://www.albertaingenuity.ca/prion/index.php.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has announced a mandatory CWD testing program for captive cervids. Up until this time, the program has been voluntary with more than 250 herds representing over 10,000 individual cervids have been enrolled in the program. They anticipate the mandatory requirement will begin on October 1 of this year. The Pennsylvania Game Commission also anticipates testing over 4,000 hunter-harvested wild deer for CWD in response to the finding in nearby Hampshire County, West Virginia. The CWD response plan for Pennsylvania can be accessed on the web at www.agriculture.state.pa.us.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks has developed an environmental assessment on their Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan to guide that agency if CWD is discovered in that state. This document represents a coordinated effort using the “best science” currently available to state and federal agencies and their scientific staffs in the development of a CWD management plan for the state of Montana. The plan can be accessed at http://fwp.state.mt.us/publicnotices/notice_892.aspx.

Senators Fiengold (D-WI) and Allard (R-CO) have successfully added an admendment to the Agriculture appropiations bill for fiscal year 2006 that requires USDA-APHIS to publish its uniform methods and rules concerning CWD and the movement of captive cervids interstate within 90 days of enactment of the provision. Both senators stated that CWD is a national issue that requires a national response.

An article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases (JWD 41[2]: 275-290) by Mike Miller and Mary Conner reports on an analysis of CWD prevalance in mule deer. The analysis indicates that there is a large difference in prevalence between prime-aged male and female mule deer. They also observed a large difference in prevalance among males between age classes. For both sexes, risk of infection appeared to increase in early adulthood, resulting in relativitely high prevalence in adult (> 2 yr. old) mule deer as compared to yearlings. This may have implications on traditional management actions that emphasize the production of “trophy” bucks of the older age class.