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Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Prion Disease in Wildlife: Responses to Changing Land Use

Investigators
Hobbs, N. Thompson
Institutions
Colorado State University
Start date
2000
End date
2005
Objective
Our project will study this epidemic to better understand how Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is transmitted, to develop mathematical models predicting its spread, and to evaluate ways to contain the disease. CWD poses a potentially catastrophic threat to members of the deer family throughout Western North America.
More information
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) of the deer family is a member of a group of infectious diseases caused by transmissible proteins called prions. Similar diseases include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle ('mad cow disease'), and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans. The only place in the world where these diseases are known to occur in free-ranging wildlife is in northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, where an epidemic of CWD has been ongoing in populations of mule deer and elk for at least two decades. Our project will study this epidemic to better understand how CWD is transmitted, to develop mathematical models predicting its spread, and to evaluate ways to contain the disease. Chronic wasting disease poses a potentially catastrophic threat to members of the deer family throughout Western North America. Expansion of the current epidemic could reduce the abundance and distribution of deer and elk throughout the region and, in so doing, could cause enduring harm to recreation-based economies of the West. Moreover, although direct threats of this disease to human health have not been established, they have not be ruled out. CWD is currently localized, but similar diseases affect animals and people worldwide. It follows that limiting the spread of CWD represents a fundamentally important challenge for protecting the health of natural and human dominated ecosystems throughout the region,and, in the fullness of time, throughout the world.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project number
0091961
Categories
Viruses and Prions
Predictive Microbiology
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game