Prions in plants? New concern for chronic wasting disease
Prions — the infectious, deformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer — can be taken up by plants such as alfalfa, corn and tomatoes, according to new research from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison.
The research further demonstrated that stems and leaves from tainted plants were infectious when injected into laboratory mice.
The findings are significant, according to the researchers and other experts, because they reveal a previously unknown potential route of exposure to prions for a Wisconsin deer herd in which the fatal brain illness continues to spread. The disease has also become a pressing issue nationwide: The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the deer disease in 17 states and predicts it will spread to other states.
Missouri Ponds Provide Clue to Killer Frog Disease
he skin fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), also known as amphibian chytrid, first made its presence felt in 1993 when dead and dying frogs began turning up in Queensland, Australia. Since then it has sickened and killed frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians worldwide, driving hundreds of species to extinction.
As a postdoctoral researcher Kevin Smith studied Bd in South Africa, home to the African clawed frog, a suspected vector for the fungus. When he took a position at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is now interim director of the Tyson Research Center and adjunct professor of biology, he worked on other problems.
But whenever he visited a pond, he collected tadpoles and checked their mouth parts (often a fungal hot spot) under the microscope, just out of curiosity.
..."I was half expecting it to be just an absolute mess, that there would be no distinguishing characteristic about ponds that have chytrid or ponds that don't," he said. "But instead, we found that the ponds that had chytrid were consistently more similar to one another than the ponds that didn't have chytrid in many different measures."
Counting on parasite warning signals
Wildlife researchers are counting on parasites to be the warning signals for the health conditions of endangered Bornean elephants.
Scientists from the research NGO Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Imperial College recently completed a joint study and published a paper on the first parasitological study on wild Bornean elephants.
“Endoparasites (parasites found in the body of an animal) can have an important influence on fitness and survival, particularly in a small population of endangered species such as the Bornean elephant,” said DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens.
“They can serve as a non-invasive warning system for wildlife and habitat health because environmental changes impact upon hosts, parasites and their shared environment,” added Goossens.
OTHER WILDLIFE HEALTH RELATED NEWS
- White-Nose Syndrome closes in on Wisconsin bats
- DNR investigating cutthroat trout virus
- Training video available for elk hunters asked to assist with brucellosis surveillance [Wyoming, USA]
- Impact of Deer Disease Expected To Be Short-Lived [Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease] [North Carolina, USA]
- CWD Testing in NC [Chronic Wasting Disease][North Carolina, USA]
- Local deer hunters facing chronic wasting restrictions [Pennsylvania, USA]
- Hunters will again be able to have adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease [Wisconsin, USA]
- Participants of deer study come to learn about on-going research on deer mortality: Not your typical deer camp [Wisconsin, USA]
- Report: Polluted farm runoff linked to toxic green algae slime in U.S. waters [Find joint report from Resource Media and National Wildlife Federation HERE]
- Breakthrough discovery links blue-green algae with motor neuron disease [Cited journal article HERE]
- Students Help Document Amphibian Decline
- Biology in the Big Apple: Surveying the Wildlife of Central Park [Community-based, hands-on seminar]
- How Climate Change Could Make Mercury Pollution Worse
- U.N. Climate Panel Endorses Ceiling on Global Emissions
- Fish Could Hold Answers for Hepatitis E
- EHD reported in Iowa cattle herds [Iowa, USA]
- FAO, OIE and WHO unite for World Rabies Day to call for elimination of disease
- Forest fragmentation triggers 'ecological Armageddon' [Cited journal article HERE]
- Loss of digging mammals linked to ecosystem decline: Wombats, bilbies, bandicoots and potoroos play role in keeping landscape healthy, researchers say
- Wildlife crime ranks among trafficking in drugs, arms and humans
- Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD) receives $2 million in federal funding for new EPS technology
- Experts say endocrine-disrupting chemicals pose global health threat
- Gene sequences of deadly Saudi virus show complex transmission