RML, FWP to discuss monitoring, management, risks
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk has been a popular topic nationally in recent months as several states try to balance concerns and answer questions from hunting, wildlife management and public health sectors. What causes CWD? Can its spread be contained? Are people who consume venison at risk?
Three Montana CWD experts will cover those questions and more during a presentation on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Hamilton High School, 327 Fairgrounds Road. “Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana” will feature Bruce Chesebro, M.D., and Brent Race, D.V.M., from Rocky Mountain Laboratories and Emily Almberg, Ph.D., from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Chesebro and Race are scientists who conduct research on CWD and related diseases at the Hamilton-based facility, while Almberg, a disease ecologist, helps develop and manage the state’s surveillance and response.
The hour-long presentation, which is free and intended for a general audience, is part of the RML community outreach series. RML is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
CWD is a type of prion disease found in wild or domesticated deer, elk, moose and reindeer. CWD has not been naturally transmitted to sheep, cattle or people. Prion diseases result from accumulation of a misfolded form of the host prion protein which leads to degeneration of the brain.
Scientists identified CWD in captive deer in Colorado in the 1960s; the first case found in wild deer also occurred in Colorado, in 1981. In 1999 CWD was found in captive elk on a Montana game farm; in 2017, wild deer with CWD were detected in Montana.
RML in the 1960s became one of the first places in the world to conduct research on prion diseases, then known as “slow viruses.” Drs. William Hadlow and Carl Eklund started RML’s prion disease research program, which Dr. Chesebro now directs.
“For decades RML has been a global leader in exciting discoveries related to prion diseases,” the Deputy Director for Scientific Management at RML, Marshall Bloom, M.D., said. “Our CWD research is adding to that legacy.”
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