Chronic wasting disease or CWD is a type of neurological condition which can be very contagious. It usually infects moose, elk, and deer. Once infected, the disease causes a spongy degeneration of the animal’s brain. This results in abnormal behavior, the loss of the normal bodily functions, emaciation, and finally, death. Chronic wasting disease is part of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs group of disorders. Within this group, there are different variants which may affect the domestic animals. Also within the TSEs is a number of human diseases which are very rare but can occur naturally. To learn more about CWD, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

1. What is the origin of chronic wasting disease?

No one knows the exact origin of the chronic wasting disease. It’s also impossible to determine when or how CWD arose definitively. In the latter part of the 1960s, in Colorado, they recognized the disease as a syndrome in one of the mule deer held captive in a facility for wildlife research. But it was only identified as a TSE in the 1970s. According to computer modeling, this disease may have already been around in the free-ranging populations of mule deer for over 40 years. It’s also possible that chronic wasting disease is a natural type of TSE which occurred in deer either in captivity or the wild. It also has biological features which promote the transmission to elk and other types of deer.

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