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girty1600

Saliva May be Culprit for Disease

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Mad Deer Disease May Spread With Saliva

By Lauran Neergaard

Associated Press

posted: 06 October 2006

01:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AP) ─ Deer probably spread a brain-destroying illness called chronic wasting disease through their saliva, concludes a study that finally pins down a long-suspected culprit. The key was that Colorado researchers tested some special deer.

Chronic wasting disease is in the same family of fatal brain illnesses as mad cow disease and its human equivalent. There is no evidence that people have ever caught chronic wasting disease from infected deer or elk.

But CWD is unusual because, unlike its very hard-to-spread relatives, it seems to spread fairly easily from animal to animal.

Scientists were not sure how, primarily because studying large wild animals is a logistical nightmare. The sheer stress of researchers handling a deer caught in the wild could kill it.

Likewise, animals deliberately exposed to infections must be kept indoors so as not to spread disease, another stress for deer used to roaming.

So Colorado State University researcher Edward Hoover turned to fawns hand-raised indoors in Georgia, which has not experienced chronic wasting disease.

“This allows you to do this safely so the deer aren't freaking out,'' explained Hoover, who reported the first evidence of saliva's long-suspected role in Friday's edition of the journal Science. “These deer are calm and approachable.''

Hoover took saliva from wild Colorado deer found dying of CWD, and squirted it into the mouths of three of the healthy tame deer ─ about 3 tablespoons worth.

Additional tame deer were exposed to blood, urine and feces from CWD-infected deer.

He housed the newly exposed deer in a specialized lab for up to 18 months, periodically checking tonsil tissue for signs of infection and eventually autopsying their brains.

All of the saliva-exposed deer got sick.

So did deer given a single transfusion of blood from a CWD-infected deer ─ not a surprise, as blood is known to transmit this disease's cousins. But it does reinforce existing warnings to hunters in states where CWD has been found to take precautions in handling their kills.

The three deer exposed to urine and feces didn't get sick. That doesn't rule out those substances, Hoover cautioned; he simply may not have tested enough animals.

Proving that saliva is able to spread CWD is important, so that scientists next can determine exactly how that happens in the wild, said Richard T. Johnson, a Johns Hopkins University neurology professor who headed a major report on prion science.

“You can move deer out of a pasture, put other deer into the pasture, and they'll come down with the disease. It's not even casual contact, it's contact with the pasture,'' Johnson said. “It must be something in their secretions.''

Is it spread through shared salt licks? Or by drooling onto grass or into streams? Studying environmental contamination by infectious proteins, called prions, that cause CWD is among Hoover's next steps.

“It's very likely they could be shedding a lot of saliva'' shortly before death, noted Richard Race, a veterinarian who studies CWD at the National Institutes of Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories. “Saliva's a good bet.''

Deer Spit

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Seems a bit cruel to purposely infect those little ones with this disease knowing the possible outcome...IMO

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The deaths of a few to save life for thousands has been going on for many decades and is necessary. They are trying to beat it before it spreads to other states deer herds.

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I know it sounds mean to purposefully infect those cute little guys but how else are scientists to learn more about this disease and how it spreads?

This testing isn't the run-of-the mill animal experiment. These tests may be crucial to the species as a whole. I would hate to think 90% of the deer population could be wiped out because the tests were deemed immoral.

It would be much worse if the herds had to be exterminated or culled completely like what happened with Foot and Mouth in the UK.

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Yeah, I know... all for the greater good... :)

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I know it has to be done but could not be one to feed those little fawns the contaminated stuff. :( City softie here. :blush:

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West nile virus,,Sars,,,Avian flu,,mad cow disease and now mad deer disease ,, give me a break.

:devil:

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West nile virus,,Sars,,,Avian flu,,mad cow disease and now mad deer disease ,, give me a break

Those are diseases. Nothing else. TB, Ebola. Scarlet Fever, Thyphoid, Meningitis...The list goes on forever.

I heard my uncle talking about this disease one time. He is an avid deer and turkey hunter.

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I know it has to be done but could not be one to feed those little fawns the contaminated stuff. :( City softie here. :blush:

I know how you feel; I'm a bit of a bleeding heart too.

But Nyx made a good point with "all for the greater good". Not everyone wants to participate but it needs to be done.

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