Chronic Wasting Disease in American Elk and Deer
Spongiform encephalopathies are chronic, degenerative diseases affecting
the central nervous system. Animal forms are Bovine (BSE or "Mad Cow"
disease), chronic wasting disease (CWD) in elk and deer, Transmissible
(TSE) in mink and captive exotic ruminants and cats, Feline (FSE) in
domestic cats and Scrapie (also a TSE) in sheep and goats. Human forms are
Kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jacob (CJD), Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS), fatal
familial insomnia (FFI) and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob (nvCJD). The
last of these, nvCJD, is now thought to result in some consumers of beef or
beef products from cattle infected with BSE. In turn, it is thought that
the disease in cattle originated in their consumption of feed derived from
sheep infected with Scrapie. Currently, there is some concern that CWD may
be passed to humans through consumption of meat from infected deer or elk.
The pathogenic agent is believed to be a deviate protein molecule called a
prion. For additional information and latest research, see "Mad Cow" Disease at