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From: TSS ()
Date: May 5, 2006 at 8:16 am PST

3 elk feed grounds to stay
The decision to continue feeding is “extremely unfortunate,” said Franz Camenzind, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance director whose group was among three that proposed the closures.

May 05,2006

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has decided not to close three elk feed grounds in the Gros Ventre Valley northeast of Jackson despite worries they aid the spread of diseases.

The closures would go against elk management objectives and would hamper elk hunting in the region, officials said. Elk on feed grounds – the department runs 22 in Northwest Wyoming – have a higher incidence of brucellosis, a bacterial infection that affects elk, bison, cattle, and even humans.

Conservation groups proposed the closures last year as a way to reduce prevalence of the disease. They also said such action is the best defense against chronic wasting disease, seen as a larger threat to wildlife.

The decision to continue feeding is “extremely unfortunate,” said Franz Camenzind, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance director whose group was among three that proposed the closures.

Closing the feed grounds would pose logistical problems, said John Emmerich, assistant chief of the wildlife division at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Fences would have to be built around ranches to prevent hungry elk from mingling with livestock.

“They [the elk] are going to go someplace to look for feed,” Emmerich said in a telephone interview from Cheyenne. “We feel there would have to be support from the private landowners downstream of the Gros Ventre to adopt management practices to prevent co-mingling. That’s totally out of our hands.”

Further, Emmerich said the National Elk Refuge would have to be willing to support more elk if the animals decided to move from the Gros Ventre to the refuge. The National Elk Refuge is currently trying to decrease the size of its elk herd.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Doug Brimeyer said the closures might have hurt both bighorn sheep and moose, because the areas where those animals feed overlap with elk ranges.

In addition to the conservation alliance, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Wyoming Outdoor Council asked for the closures as an experiment.

“I think it [the decision] is blocking the door to a disease-free future,” Camenzind said. “We think it’s essential to spread the elk out on their native ranges, reducing the chance of spreading the disease and reducing the infection rate.”

Elk foraging in natural areas have only single-digit infection rates, Camenzind said, while elk at the feed grounds have double-digit infection rates because of their close proximity to one another.

“It’s like having kids in kindergarten,” where flu spreads easily, he said.

Camenzind called the proposed closures “a test” and said that the Gros Ventre is an ideal site because it’s the feed ground area most isolated from cattle ranches. The valley also is public land and it gets the least amount of snow in the area.

While elk might infect more livestock in the short term, Camenzind said the possible long-term decrease of brucellosis is worth the risk. But more important, he said, is the benefit of a defense against chronic wasting disease. Keeping elk spread out over their native ranges instead of clumped around feed grounds would help protect elk against CWD, a fatal disease that affects deer and elk and is similar to “mad cow” disease.

Brucellosis, while normally not fatal, usually causes elk to abort their first pregnancy and cattle to abort their first and sometimes their second pregnancy. In humans, the brucellosis bacteria causes flu-like symptoms, sometimes chronic, that include fever, sweats, headaches, back pains, and weakness. Undulant fever is incurable and is the reason milk is pasteurized.

Humans and animals can become infected by either eating, drinking, or inhaling the bacteria. Brucellosis can also pass from a nursing mother to an infant through breast milk.

Environmental Sources of Prion Transmission in Mule Deer
Michael W. Miller,* Elizabeth S. Williams,† N. Thompson Hobbs,‡ and Lisa L. Wolfe*
*Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; †University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA; and ‡Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Suggested citation for this article: Miller MW, Williams ES, Hobbs NT, Wolfe LL. Environmental sources of prion transmission in mule deer. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2004 Jun [date cited]. Available from:


Whether transmission of the chronic wasting disease (CWD) prion among cervids requires direct interaction with infected animals has been unclear. We report that CWD can be transmitted to susceptible animals indirectly, from environments contaminated by excreta or decomposed carcasses. Under experimental conditions, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) became infected in two of three paddocks containing naturally infected deer, in two of three paddocks where infected deer carcasses had decomposed in situ ≈1.8 years earlier, and in one of three paddocks where infected deer had last resided 2.2 years earlier. Indirect transmission and environmental persistence of infectious prions will complicate efforts to control CWD and perhaps other animal prion diseases.

Controlling and possibly eradicating animal prion diseases (1) are goals shared by the international community (2,3). However, progress toward eliminating prion diseases from food-producing animals worldwide has been hampered by incomplete knowledge about transmission and environmental persistence of these novel proteinaceous pathogens. Two prion diseases, scrapie of sheep and goats (4-8) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer (Odocoileus spp.) and elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) (9-14), are particularly difficult to control because both are contagious among susceptible hosts. In contrast, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) does not appear to be contagious in cattle, but epidemics are sustained artificially through exposure to feed contaminated with infected bovine tissues (15); whether BSE in sheep is contagious remains undetermined (16). Both infected animals and environments apparently contaminated with the causative agent contribute to scrapie epidemics (4,6,8), and under some conditions, scrapie agents may persist in contaminated environments for years (7). Similarly, CWD is transmitted in the presence of infected mule deer (O. hemionus) (10), and circumstantial evidence exists for transmission from environments contaminated with the CWD agent (9,11,14). CWD epidemics do not appear to have been perpetuated by exposure to contaminated feed, but because ingestion of brain tissue can transmit CWD experimentally to deer (11,17), decomposed carcasses could serve as sources of infection in the environment.

Environmental sources of CWD infection represent potential obstacles to control in natural and captive settings. To investigate their role in transmission of this disease, we compared three potential sources of infection: infected live deer, decomposed infected deer carcasses, and an environment contaminated with residual excreta from infected deer.

Materials and Methods


Chronic Wasting Disease and Potential Transmission to Humans
Ermias D. Belay,* Ryan A. Maddox,* Elizabeth S. Williams,† Michael W. Miller,‡ Pierluigi Gambetti,§ and Lawrence B. Schonberger*
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; †University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA; ‡Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; and §Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Suggested citation for this article: Belay ED, Maddox RA, Williams ES, Miller MW, Gambetti P, Schonberger LB. Chronic wasting disease and potential transmission to humans. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2004 Jun [date cited]. Available from:


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer and elk is endemic in a tri-corner area of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and new foci of CWD have been detected in other parts of the United States. Although detection in some areas may be related to increased surveillance, introduction of CWD due to translocation or natural migration of animals may account for some new foci of infection. Increasing spread of CWD has raised concerns about the potential for increasing human exposure to the CWD agent. The foodborne transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy to humans indicates that the species barrier may not completely protect humans from animal prion diseases. Conversion of human prion protein by CWD-associated prions has been demonstrated in an in vitro cell-free experiment, but limited investigations have not identified strong evidence for CWD transmission to humans. More epidemiologic and laboratory studies are needed to monitor the possibility of such transmissions.........snip........end........tss

Wyoming Feedgrounds Double as CWD Time Bomb
By Bill Schneider, 11-03-05

Considering the risks associated with baiting and the possibility of spreading CWD and other disease organisms, NGPC believes it prudent that hunters and landowners stop all baiting and feeding of deer and elk. We believe that baiting, mineral blocks, feed piles used by deer all increase the odds of disease transmission. While the method of CWD disease transmission is not known, the best guess is that nose to nose contact increases the risk.




16, 17, 18 June 2004

Burleigh Court, Loughborough University


It was noted that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a prion disease that affects deer, is reaching epidemic level in North America. 21 of 52...TSS



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