Elk NetworkScientists Developing New CWD Test on Live Animals

General | April 15, 2021

A new study shows scientists are working on a way to better detect chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose. Instead of gathering lymph nodes samples from a rectal biopsy via a dead animal, researchers pinch off a small piece of an animal’s ear near the central nerve where prion activity is more available and active.

“We need to do more in the form of field testing to verify its utility,” Byron Caughey, chief of the TSE/Prion Biochemistry Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Billings Gazette. “We hope this will be simpler and safer for the animal,”

Scientists took samples from the ears of 58 supposedly healthy deer taken by hunters in Colorado and found good success in determining CWD-positive samples from this method.

The goal is to better detect CWD in live animals the wild so wildlife managers can take more timely and appropriate action containing the spread of the disease.

(Photo source:  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)