Researchers ask: Are Canada’s threatened caribou at risk of chronic wasting disease? – UCalgary

Researchers ask: Are Canada’s threatened caribou at risk of chronic wasting disease? – UCalgary

by ahnationtalk on September 23, 2020427 Views

As cases of an infectious disease that kills members of the deer family continue to rise in Alberta, a new study sheds light on the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) to Canadian caribou — a species officially listed as threatened.

CWD is one of a group of infectious illnesses called prion diseases. They occur when normal prion proteins, found on the surface of many cells, become abnormal and clump in the brain, causing severe brain damage. One of the best known prion diseases is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Animals with CWD lose weight drastically (wasting), and suffer other symptoms like stumbling and drooling. The disease is fatal in all cases. There’s no cure, treatment, or way to prevent it.

Analyzing CWD susceptibility

To better understand the risk of CWD to Canada’s caribou, Maria Arifin, a University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) PhD student, genotyped blood and tissue samples of caribou from B.C., Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. As part of the study, published in the journal Molecular Ecology, Arifin analyzed the prion protein gene sequence of some 1,000 caribou, and also considered results from an earlier 2017 study conducted on Alberta caribou.

Read More: https://news.ucalgary.ca/news/researchers-ask-are-canadas-threatened-caribou-risk-chronic-wasting-disease

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