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A plague on the moose’s head

Sad, but is almost a fait accompli. Over the past year, the hunting economy of the country has suffered a huge loss. We lost the whole view of hunting — wild boar. The consequences of this will manifest in the near future, but there is still more terrible threat.

Replaced “ASF Board” boar some “gifted” leaders have offered to settle in the Russian forest American white-tailed deer. The animal, which will also bring “three cheerful letters”. But foreign: CWD. The disease is chronic wasting of deer. Scientific studies have shown that the disease can be a real plague in a literal sense to the heads of our moose. Nothing less than a disaster on a national scale.

In may this year we held a meeting of the Section of immunology of the Central house of scientists of RAS on the problems of deceasedeng, which raised the issue of penetration in our country CWD. In mid-July in “Oir” theme was developed (article by Michael Sankofa “alarm — white”). The article “Trojan deer” was published in the journal “the Magic is real SAFARI”. December alone in the yard, and things are there. Neither the agriculture Ministry nor the Ministry of natural resources has not taken ANY measures to prevent the penetration into our territory of this deadly disease. In the tradition of officials and merchants simply ignored the views of scientists. Judging by the activity of our “deontoloji” in Russia continue to arrive and potentially dangerous migrants. After next October, the meeting of the section, which also was decided to devote this issue, I talked Rapporteur — Dr. biologicheskih of Sciences M. V. Kholodova, chief scientific officer, and head of the Cabinet of molecular diagnostics, Institute of ecology and evolution them. A. N. Severtsov, the main expert dealing with the problem СWD in Russia.


— Marina Vladimirovna, what is CWD and how is manifested?

— This abbreviation stands for Chronic wasting desease — chronic fatigue deer. It is manifested in a sharp loss of weight, salivation, loss of orientation in space and eventually leads to death of animals. The General picture is very distinctive. Sudden death never occurs a slow but irreversible extinction. Basic diagnostics is conducted on anatomic factors: the changes in the brain, nervous and lymphatic systems.


— How exactly is the infection? How long pathogens can survive in nature?

— The disease agent — prions. This is not a virus, but a special species infectious agents, representing proteins with abnormal three-dimensional structure. They are able to turn out like them myself homologous proteins included in the cells of the nervous system. In contact with prions in the body the transformation of normal proteins into prions is like an avalanche. He prion protein from its primary structure linear amino acid sequence folds into secondary and tertiary structures, so that it cannot split any single enzyme. This “sverhskorostey” protein stops working and just starts to accumulate in the animal causing the changes described above. With discharge it into the environment, where no single enzyme is not cleaved. Amazingly, prions are resistant to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, high temperatures, most disinfectants. On the solonetz, on the trail, and especially in the aviary, they can persist for years.


— When it was first discovered and described the disease?

— The first sick animal was discovered on a deer farm in 1967 in the USA (Colorado and Wyoming). In 70-ies was described prion disease in elk, white-tailed and mule deer. Initially it was considered as rare and exotic, but then, in the 90-ies, there has been a rapid and widespread as among “domestic” and wild deer. In the late 90-ies of the disease was discovered in other places, and at the end of last year, “infected” was considered as 23 U.S. States and two provinces in Canada. According to my foreign colleagues, today in Wyoming and Colorado, the infestation of animals in some natural groups of up to 50%, and on private deer farms up to 90%. All these animals are doomed. The true extent of the diseases of deer in nature we do not know, because of weakened animals faster destroy predators. In addition, not all deaths of deer to properly diagnose. Part of the CWD cases without laboratory analysis (histological sections of the brain, histochemical analysis) can be mistakenly identified as a death from starvation. By the way, there have also been cases of “truss” deer elk in Korea, but it was imported from Canada animal. To prevent the spread of CWD all the population of deer on the farm — about 4,000 animals were killed. The outbreak was localized.

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— On the website of Rosselkhoznadzor for CWD said: “Sick cattle. It is established that prion scrapie can cause disease in sheep and goats (scrapie), sripipatana disease in mink (transmissible mink encephalopathy), deer and elk (chronic debilitating disease) in monkeys and humans (Kuru, Creutzfeldt — Jakob syndrome of Gerstmann — Straussler, amyotrophic lateral leukospongiosis, etc.)”. The pathogen is truly one?

— No, now this speculation has not been confirmed in scientific circles. You mentioned diseases are also prion, but cross-contamination does not occur.


— But why then did CWD? Could this disease be anthropogenic in nature: to escape from the lab?

— I doubt it. Mutations usually occur spontaneously. One animal mutation occurred, and then started the infection of others. Most likely, this disease has existed for a long time, but had a local character. Speaking of scrapie: I came across descriptions of outbreaks of the disease in Britain in XVII–XVIII centuries. And in Sweden in the middle ages described the outbreak similar to the CWD of the disease and mass death of the moose. Most likely, the following occurs: any site unstable line died, sustainable survived and gave offspring. But with the beginning of active movement of animals and their derivatives emerged in one place the disease is widespread.

— Is it possible to cure a diseased animal?

— No. No money for treatment, and most importantly — the prevention of this disease today does not exist. The only thing that “slows down” its distribution is genetic resistance. American scientists conducted experiments on artificial infection of white-tailed and mule deer. The results showed that reindeers, some genetic lines become infected very easily, and others do not become infected at all. They also found a relationship between CWD infection and a specific amino acid. In reindeer, for example, it is shown that a very ancient and versatile gene is associated with resistance to these mutations.


— Whether domestic elk resistance to this disease, because the moose today, perhaps, the most important species in our ungulate hunting.

— The moose are not so simple. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA, transmitted through the maternal line, we can distinguish three lines: European, Siberian and American. Inside them too, there are options: for example, the European line is the Ural, West Siberian branch. All of our Ural, European country and the Northern part of Western Siberia, is mainly inhabited by elk, European lines. There are only a few American and East Siberian genetic lines. But the East Siberia, mainly inhabited by the elk of the East Siberian and American lines. In the study of the distribution of alleles of the gene of prion protein among elk in the European part of Russia, Ural and West Siberia we didn’t find any lines that are resistant to this disease. Although the sample is made very large. Our Swedish colleagues also found among their animals only one stable so-called Q-line.

In the whole country among our animals, we found only a few resistant to the disease lines, similar to those described for American elk, in the North-East area, and also one animal in the North of the Kola Peninsula, by the way, belong to the same Scandinavian Q lines. That is, unfortunately, a large part of the population of our moose is a very unstable type.
Additionally, we analyzed a fairly significant sample of the genetic material of a red deer with the European part of Russia and found out that these animals only apply to intermittent type. Among the samples we have not found any animal steady lines.

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But there is a caveat. If resistant alleles are in the homozygous state, the probability of infection is low. If heterozygous, then it increases. But here lies another danger: the animal that received the resistant alleles only from one parent, may possess not only greater stability, but also to have a longer latent period of the disease. That is harder to detect. Such an animal can even participate in breeding and to breed. Also, of course, infected.


— That is for us to “drift” the prion diseases will be a real disaster?

— Absolutely.


— Whether in America or Canada is genetically resistant to the disease group animals?

— Yes, about 45%. They are lines that are genetically related to our North East group. This is due to the ancient ties between the continents. During the last glacial maximum between Eurasia and America there was the so-called land bridge, or Beringia — a vast country with a width of a thousand miles, through which there was an exchange of animals between the two continents. And it is in this part of the country can be found today are resistant to CWD alleles. We very much hope to find here, deer, resistant to CWD, but our hopes have not been realized.

— What measures at the state level needs to be taken in our country to prevent the contamination of wild elk and
deer?

— First, you need to temporarily ban all imports of wild animals of North America — an epidemic outbreak of the disease. Just think — two States in twenty-three. Imagine the degree of risk?

The trouble is that a perfectly healthy appearance, the animal can be infected by CWD and at an early stage to identify in the environment of infected squirrels. There is evidence of the manifestation of signs of disease after four months and even a year after the artificial infection. That is the breeder deer may buy not promising producers, and a time bomb. In order to try to avoid infection, it is necessary, in addition to the analysis on bluetongue to introduce a mandatory test for CWD. There are several variants of such tests in life to determine the presence in the body of the prion protein. One of the most common — test “ELISA”. Analysis expensive, but at the moment proven in practice. Of course, it will cause additional costs for breeders of deer and increase the value of animals, but in this case we are talking about the survival of nearly all livestock, domestic elk, deer and ROE deer. In addition, if you really really want to buy it overseas names, then preference should be given to monozygotic genetically stable lines.
In General, all somehow forget that in our country there are authentic hunting animals that can successfully breed in our conditions. For example, ROE deer. Why take threat of deer here, if you can work with your types.


Thank You, Marina! Unfortunately, when it comes to business, combined with traditional Russian “maybe”, all the scientific arguments may be powerless. Rather, we need to prepare for the worst: from prion infection moose, deer, and the deer do not hide in remote corners of the taiga as from poachers. And carelessness of the staff of most captive farms will contribute to the penetration and spread of dangerous infection even in exemplary farms. Where medosmotre where stashed… Lost a deer and died — which is not the case… Because our weak will, as in Korea, because of one all under the knife.
CWD welcome?

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