Elk are fed in close quarters on the National Elk Refuge. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./Jackson Hole News&Guide/WyoFile)

PINEDALE — A newly appointed statewide chronic wasting disease working group won’t address disease-transmission at elk feedgrounds, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional supervisor said last week.

The 32-member panel appointed by Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik in April will recommend revisions to the agency’s CWD management plan by March 2020. It will meet for the first time July 23-25 in Lander to address the always-fatal cervid disease, a cousin of mad cow disease and the degenerative Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease among humans. (See the members’ names below.)

The group won’t have one of the most contentious CWD issue on its plate — 22 Game and Fish winter elk feedgrounds west of the Continental Divide. About 21% of Wyoming elk gather on feedgrounds in winter, according to WyoFile calculations made from Game and Fish data, worrying some that CWD will run rampant when it arrives.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department uses this illustration to describe the differences between a normal and malformed prion protein. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

“Dealing with the feedground issue could weigh down the statewide group,” Brad Hovinga, Jackson regional Game and Fish supervisor, told WyoFile last week. He outlined that sentiment to a group of approximately 50 persons at a meeting in Pinedale on June 4.

Instead, Game and Fish is considering forming a separate, more localized group that would address elk feedgrounds. That would occur “after this [statewide] process,” Hovinga told those at the Pinedale meeting. “We want to start it soon,” he later told WyoFile about a potential examination of feedgrounds.

Game and Fish is “not trying to minimize what the potential effects of CWD on elk feedgrounds are,” Hovinga said in an interview. The agency recognizes feedgrounds “will likely exacerbate the disease problem,” because they concentrate animals artificially to the point diseases can be transmitted more easily.

Today, however, “the biggest [CWD] threat is to deer, not to elk,” he said. “CWD is expanding differently in elk than it is in deer.”

Deer driving disease

Game and Fish has found CWD in deer in about 70% — 91 of 129 — of the state’s deer hunt areas, according to WyoFile calculations made from Game and Fish maps. Those hunt areas cover almost the entire eastern half of the state and most of the northwest quarter. Game and Fish also found CWD in deer and a moose in a few areas west of the Continental Divide, including Grand Teton National Park (where deer hunting is not allowed).

Among elk, in contrast, Game and Fish has detected CWD in elk in about 20% of — 22 of 106 — elk hunt areas. All are east of the Continental Divide where the agency operates no feedgrounds.

Game and Fish personnel in the Pinedale meeting painted a bleak picture of the mysterious and insidious ailment. Infected animals wither and die. A misshapen protein or prion causes the malady, for which there is no known cure or vaccine. Infection rates among deer can run near 40% in some areas. One study concluded that CWD causes mule deer population declines of 19 percent annually and predicts virtual extirpation of an infected herd.

Melia DeVivo comforts a captured mule deer while waiting for colleagues to bring a new radio collar for the research subject. A doctoral candidate at the University of Wyoming in 2015, she spent five years studying the effect of Chronic Wasting Disease on a central Wyoming mule deer herd. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

CWD is believed to be concentrated in nervous tissue, like brains and spinal columns. It is transmitted through body fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine. While there is no strong evidence CWD can be transmitted from cervids to humans, research on monkeys suggest it can jump to primates. Monkeys may have contracted CWD by consuming muscle meat.

But deformed prions can be shed into the environment, creating persistent contamination. Plants can take it up in their roots and leaves. In experiments, mice fed on such infected vegetation have become infected with CWD, Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Mary Wood said in her presentation. Predators may key in on infected animals, she said. While predators don’t become infected themselves, prions can pass through their digestive tracts.

CWD also is persistent, Game and Fish personnel said at Pinedale.

“It will continue to increase in distribution and prevalence,” agency wildlife disease specialist Hank Edwards said. Game and Fish finds CWD in about five new deer herds in Wyoming each year. It spreads among animals’ “social groups.” There is no indication of a long-term decrease, he said.

“It’s probably here to stay,” Edwards told the Pinedale group. But CWD is not expected to cause extinction, he said.

Lessons learned

“Nothing happens quickly with Chronic Wasting Disease,” Wood said in Pinedale. Any solution or program “we’re going to need to apply long-term … with public support.”

Wyoming could learn from other states’ programs that have sought to limit or eliminate the disease. Minnesota and New York launched early and aggressive killings of deer that initially seemed successful. But CWD re-emerged in Minnesota in 2016.

Wisconsin increased hunting plus culling unsuccessfully. The effort was intolerable to the public and not sustainable.

Former Wyoming Game and Fish disease specialist John Henningsen extracts lymph nodes from a hunter’s mule deer at the Alpine hunter check station in 2012. Analyzing the nodes in a laboratory is the method of determining whether a deer has been infected by Chronic Wasting Disease. (Wyoming Game and Fish/Mark Gocke)

“The disease was already well-established,” Wood said. “They lost a lot of trust from the public.”

Illinois undertook “focused density reduction” of white-tailed deer, Wood’s presentation showed. That cut down deer populations soon after detection — “a prolonged culling program where they believe those deer existed,” Wood said.

That kept CWD infection rates between 1% and 3% and minimized its spread. “They believe they’re having an effect,” Wood said.

Colorado cut some mule deer populations by 25% through harvest and culling, Wood’s presentation showed. Although it abandoned the program after not seeing early results, 10 years later CWD prevalence was reduced. “They do believe they’re having an impact on prevalence,” Wood said.

An urban Colorado test-and-slaughter program targeted half a selected mule deer population annually. It showed a trend toward reduced CWD prevalence in males.

“They didn’t see really strong results,” Wood said. The effort was challenging and expensive.

Alberta identified infected deer populations during fall hunts then culled those groups in winter. Public outrage shut the program down, Wood said.

Even though the Canadian province suspended the program in 2009, it appeared to minimize the prevalence and minimize, but not eliminate, the spread of CWD, Wood’s presentation showed.

Programs will require 5-10 years of consistent management before they would be found effective, she said. If the public is not on board from the start, experiences in other areas show efforts will be shut down.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recommends regulating the disposal of game carcasses. Natural urine, feces or other cervid materials should not be moved around, it says. Wildlife managers should implement strategic surveillance and monitoring for CWD, the group says.

The Western Association Fish and Wildlife Agencies promotes adaptive management. “What works in one area may not work in another area,” Wood said while outlining WAFWA’s recommendations.

Increased hunting should be directed at herd segments most likely to be CWD positive, the Western association recommends.


Wildlife managers should “restrict” feeding, WAFWA says. Reducing artificial concentrations of wildlife includes artificial sources of water and minerals — like salt blocks — as well as food, according to the association.

Feedgrounds “certainly [are] a concern for us,” Hovinga said. Feedgrounds “will likely exacerbate the disease problem,” he said in an interview.

“We’ve decided in our discussions internally the whole feedground issue and feedground management … is big enough it should have its own process.”

This aerial view shows low-density feeding at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s feedground in South Park, Jackson Hole. Spreading out elk at feedgrounds is a method Game and Fish would implement to reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in elk. (Susan Patla/Wyoming Game and Fish)

Feedgrounds exist only in Sublette, Lincoln and Teton counties. He outlined how the topic will be tackled.

“It’s a process that deals with a localized area,” he said. “We’re in the process of developing what that will look like. It’s in its infancy.

“We’re still looking at representation on a state level. There will be some connection with the statewide group. We certainly need influence from [the] Department of Agriculture and Governor’s office.”

Game and Fish has found CWD in deer and moose west of the Continental Divide and in all three feedground counties. One infected deer was found in Grand Teton National Park on a road that passes a stone’s throw from the National Elk Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides supplemental feed for some 7,000 elk each winter at the refuge.

CWD has not yet been found in feedground elk.

“Game and Fish officials believe CWD will arrive in elk at feedgrounds in the future,” the Jackson region said in a statement earlier this year. “Game and Fish is concerned about how CWD’s arrival on feedgrounds will affect elk populations in western Wyoming.

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Wyoming has been feeding elk for more than 100 years, the agency wrote. “Feedgrounds maintain elk population objectives while also maximizing separation of elk from cattle to prevent property damage and minimize brucellosis transmission to cattle,” the Jacksons region wrote. Feeding also keeps them off highways.

Wyoming’s elk feedground budget was $2.3 million in fiscal year 2017, according to a presentation to the Wyoming Game and Fish commission in 2017. The agency buys between 6,000 and 9,000 tons of hay annually. In the winter of 2016-2017, feeders doled out hay to 15,341 wapiti. On the National Elk Refuge, workers supply alfalfa pellets to an additional 6,000 to 7,000 elk, bringing the statewide total to somewhere near 22,000 animals on feed each winter.

The agency estimated more than 104,800 elk populated the state in January 2018, a count taken before the annual crop of newborns. That’s 31% above Wyoming Game and Fish Department objectives. WyoFile calculates 21% of Wyoming’s elk congregate on feedgrounds or the National Elk Refuge in the winter.

Wyoming will shift monitoring strategy

Wyoming will shift to statewide monitoring of wildlife instead of testing at the geographic leading edge of infections to identify CWD’s spread. It will concentrate on two herd units a year in each region, seeking to obtain statistically significant sample sizes.

Pinedale participants recommended the department increase education about CWD. They said hunters should be used in any program and licenses should be reissued to those whose deer or elk test positive.

Hank Edwards, Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife disease specialist, helps collect biological samples from a bighorn ewe on the National Elk Refuge in 2015. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr./WyoFile)

Participants called for imposition of standards for big game processors and tests of urban deer population. Predators’ effects on populations should be considered and cost-benefit analyses of any program conducted, among other things.

In the meantime hunters should not kill thin or obviously sick animals, Edwards said. Hunters should wear rubber gloves when field dressing big game.

In areas known to harbor CWD, hunters should have their animal tested – even before butchering. Quarter and freeze game meat until test results are in, Edwards suggested. Only after receiving CWD test results should one butcher or process an animal.

Disinfect knives by submerging them for an hour in a 50% bleach solution, he said. The process corrodes the metal, however.

“It’s the equivalent to burying it in the garden for 40 years,” Edwards said.

Game and Fish is gearing up to test 15,000 animals a year. The Wyoming State Veterinarian’s lab will test samples within 10 days of receipt at a cost of $30.

“We don’t make human health recommendations,” Wood told the group. The federal Centers for Disease Control writes that hunters should not eat meat from animals that test positive for CWD and makes other handling and processing recommendations.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. Please note the advice regarding extensive decontamination of butchering tools required after exposure to CWD animals. Now think about the universal practices of commercial wild game processors. Is there any doubt that all game meat coming from every processor in a CWD infected area has not been contaminated?

    I started making inquiries about the dangers posed to human consumption of CWD deer and elk over a decade ago and the information from Game and Fish did not reassure me in the least. I stopped hunting deer and elk as a result and I suspect others will do the same as they realize the problems that Game and Fish has for so longer tried to minimize.

  2. The State of Wyoming has refused for years to close the elk feed grounds regarding brucellosis transmission,, which affects elk more than deer, and has been proven to be transmissible to people.. So why would it do anything differently with CWD?

    Elk contract brucellosis from bison that also feed on the same feed grounds as the elk. In turn, the disease gets passed on to cattle grazing on federal allotments through contact with both elk and bison. The ranchers refuse to vaccinate for the disease because it leaves antibodies in the blood so cattle can test positive for the disease. The ranchers in Wyoming, and Montana, would rather have the Yellowstone bison killed off (at their behest) when they leave the reservation instead of vaccinating their cattle or forgoing their precious grazing allotments. So far, the ranchers have been unsuccessful in getting rid of elk or closing the feed grounds; they’re too much of a cash cow for G&F/state coffers. The only way to eradicate brucellosis in wildlife (and cattle) is slaughter of affected animals. Since that would decimate the elk population, kept artificially inflated by the feed grounds, and curtail hunting and the money it brings in, it’s not talked about, let alone dealt with. Unless the onus is put solely on bison, which are then slaughtered without testing as soon as they leave the park.

    Brucellosis can be passed to humans, most commonly when dealing with the afterbirth of newly born or aborted calves from infected mothers.

    Now we add CWD. The state is dealing with it the same way it’s dealt with brucellosis in wildlife. By not.

  3. Postscript: I note for the record here that this CWD working group cobbled together by G & F contains five ” Sportspersons” and two Outfitters , but only one person identified as a Scientist.

    Seems a little skewed to me….

  4. I contacted the Public relations person at the Game and Fish today about this issue. I sent her the email below to which she sent me a reply concerning my human health concerns.. Apparently Game and Fish expects ME to contact the CDC as they feel human health is not a part of Game and Fish responsibility?

    Thanks, John. As I mentioned before, I will make sure to pass along your comments (both new and others previously submitted) along to the Working Group and the internal Game and Fish Steering Team to make sure they are aware of your concerns. The Working Group does not meet until the end of July, so it will still be some time before they see your comments.

    Have you personally contacted the CDC to get answers to the human health questions you have? I would suggest that if you haven’t already done so. https://www.cdc.gov/contact/index.htm is the address I found that has a phone number to contact them as well as a way to email them via a form.

    I look forward to seeing you at the December meeting. And please, feel free to contact me at any time to pass along information to the group.

    Thanks for your concerns John, I really appreciate you sending them.


    Janet Milek | Public Information Specialist, Casper Region
    Wyoming Game and Fish Department
    3030 Energy Lane
    Casper, WY 82604
    307.233.6404 office
    307.258.7602 mobile

    On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 6:46 AM wrote:


    I attended the public meeting on CWD management in Sheridan Wyoming late May 2019.

    I was sort of taken aback at the apparent distancing of CWD and a human health issue by the Game and Fish presentation. While I completely comprehend that the Game and Fish is not responsible for “disease control’ in the United States, it struck me as odd that all the presenters who were asked questions about any health connections with humans did indeed down play any connection or gave answers that were not re-assuring at all. Mary used the words “There is a great ‘block’ between the two”… but when asked to explain her use of those words– she was not able to logically do so.

    Wyoming’s CWD is spreading. As this word gets out into the mainstream of our hunting industry, my opinion (as I stated it in our working group that evening), is that unless Game and Fish begins to show concern about CWD’s effect on human health, the purchase of tags, both residential and non residential, will begin to decline across the board. The impact of that of course is that all game and fish budgets with be the unintended recipient of diminishing trust with the Game and Fish not being able to ensure public safety. The end result is that there will be no economic base to continue any Game and Fish program, much less CWD management.

    It is noted that your 32 man CWD management team is comprised of mostly a ‘volunteer’ force at the onset. Not one cent was offered for food, lodging, travel to and from the 4 mandated classes. These volunteers must then agree to become unpaid spokesmen for the Game and Fish after successfully completing the training. The point is… your budget is already stretched isn’t it?

    I feel strongly that your CWD efforts need to include a direct effort to begin communications with the CDC on the issue of human health in order to show some good faith commitment to those who need assurance in buying tags which presently only give them an avenue to questionable health concerns down the line. Not considering this point in my opinion is an opportunity missed, and falls into the reckless column!.

    Without sale of tags, Game and Fish budget faces undeniable loss of revenue! Your public meetings need to begin altering the present course of denying any association of health concerns with CWD. If you claim there is no connection with CWD as our Sheridan meeting displayed to us all… and you are confident in this tactic, why then can you not prove your theory by aligning with the CDC’s stand… “To date there has been no recorded death associated with CWD”? I strongly suggest you obtain the statistics that the CDC must possess to make the statement that you are using. In not doing so, your meetings are destined to do nothing more than begin a downward spiral with the loss of trust between sportsman’s wallets and the sale of your tags.

    Again, I bring up the fact that in Sheridan County alone, 2 people have recently died from the “Human Equivalent of Mad Cow Disease”. If Mad Cow Disease has been eradicated when CWD is all around us (and both are prion based)… how then are these two deaths being attributed to “Mad Cow disease Equivalent” and not “CWD Equivalent”? This makes no sense to me whatsoever. I will continue to make no sense to any us until you seek answers to the question on our behalf because your Game and Fish Dept is selling tickets to an unanswered health risk! “Unanswered” because I received no credible answer at your public meeting! My thought is that it is not at all acceptable to hear the words “experimentation” and “unknown” much less try to cipher graphs flashed before us that in some cases possessed no scientific rationale at all when public health is a reasonable concern.

    I will attend the December follow-up public meeting in Sheridan to again challenge this premise. I will bring a copy of this email before raising my hand to pursue my concern.

    I hope that Wyoming Game and Fish sees the point I am raising and begins to comprehend it’s impact from a monetary, much less a public health issue. In my opinion, these two dots need to be connected before going forward and it becomes an untenable situation.

    Thanks for your time..

    John Matejov

    From: Janet Milek
    Sent: Thursday, June 06, 2019 2:09 PM
    To: jmatejov@trcable.tv
    Subject: Fwd: CWD Feedback


    Thank you for your comment (all of them). They will be presented to both the CWD Steering Team (internal Game and Fish team) and the 32 members of the CWD Public Working Group.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to send your thoughts.


    1. After reading my published comment I saw that one of my sentences started with “I will continue to make no sense”… when it should have read IT will continue to make no sense! While some might question my logic at times as “making no sense” I could not change this typographical error… and could only correct it with this added comment! 🙂

    2. Chronic Wasting Disease CWD TSE Prion aka mad deer disease zoonosis

      We hypothesize that:

      (1) The classic CWD prion strain can infect humans at low levels in the brain and peripheral lymphoid tissues;

      (2) The cervid-to-human transmission barrier is dependent on the cervid prion strain and influenced by the host (human) prion protein (PrP) primary sequence;

      (3) Reliable essays can be established to detect CWD infection in humans; and

      (4) CWD transmission to humans has already occurred. We will test these hypotheses in 4 Aims using transgenic (Tg) mouse models and complementary in vitro approaches.



      here is the latest;


      Oral transmission of CWD into Cynomolgus macaques: signs of atypical disease, prion conversion and infectivity in macaques and bio-assayed transgenic mice

      Hermann M. Schatzl, Samia Hannaoui, Yo-Ching Cheng, Sabine Gilch (Calgary Prion Research Unit, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada) Michael Beekes (RKI Berlin), Walter Schulz-Schaeffer (University of Homburg/Saar, Germany), Christiane Stahl-Hennig (German Primate Center) & Stefanie Czub (CFIA Lethbridge).

      To date, BSE is the only example of interspecies transmission of an animal prion disease into humans. The potential zoonotic transmission of CWD is an alarming issue and was addressed by many groups using a variety of in vitro and in vivo experimental systems. Evidence from these studies indicated a substantial, if not absolute, species barrier, aligning with the absence of epidemiological evidence suggesting transmission into humans. Studies in non-human primates were not conclusive so far, with oral transmission into new-world monkeys and no transmission into old-world monkeys. Our consortium has challenged 18 Cynomolgus macaques with characterized CWD material, focusing on oral transmission with muscle tissue. Some macaques have orally received a total of 5 kg of muscle material over a period of 2 years.

      After 5-7 years of incubation time some animals showed clinical symptoms indicative of prion disease, and prion neuropathology and PrPSc deposition were detected in spinal cord and brain of some euthanized animals. PrPSc in immunoblot was weakly detected in some spinal cord materials and various tissues tested positive in RT-QuIC, including lymph node and spleen homogenates. To prove prion infectivity in the macaque tissues, we have intracerebrally inoculated 2 lines of transgenic mice, expressing either elk or human PrP. At least 3 TgElk mice, receiving tissues from 2 different macaques, showed clinical signs of a progressive prion disease and brains were positive in immunoblot and RT-QuIC. Tissues (brain, spinal cord and spleen) from these and pre-clinical mice are currently tested using various read-outs and by second passage in mice. Transgenic mice expressing human PrP were so far negative for clear clinical prion disease (some mice >300 days p.i.). In parallel, the same macaque materials are inoculated into bank voles.

      Taken together, there is strong evidence of transmissibility of CWD orally into macaques and from macaque tissues into transgenic mouse models, although with an incomplete attack rate.

      The clinical and pathological presentation in macaques was mostly atypical, with a strong emphasis on spinal cord pathology.
      Our ongoing studies will show whether the transmission of CWD into macaques and passage in transgenic mice represents a form of non-adaptive prion amplification, and whether macaque-adapted prions have the potential to infect mice expressing human PrP.

      The notion that CWD can be transmitted orally into both new-world and old-world non-human primates asks for a careful reevaluation of the zoonotic risk of CWD..

      ***> The notion that CWD can be transmitted orally into both new-world and old-world non-human primates asks for a careful reevaluation of the zoonotic risk of CWD. Primary structural differences at residue 226 of deer and elk PrP dictate selection of distinct CWD prion strains in gene-targeted mice


      > However, to date, no CWD infections have been reported in people.

      key word here is ‘reported’. science has shown that CWD in humans will look like sporadic CJD. SO, how can one assume that CWD has not already transmitted to humans? they can’t, and it’s as simple as that. from all recorded science to date, CWD has already transmitted to humans, and it’s being misdiagnosed as sporadic CJD. …terry


      *** These results would seem to suggest that CWD does indeed have zoonotic potential, at least as judged by the compatibility of CWD prions and their human PrPC target. Furthermore, extrapolation from this simple in vitro assay suggests that if zoonotic CWD occurred, it would most likely effect those of the PRNP codon 129-MM genotype and that the PrPres type would be similar to that found in the most common subtype of sCJD (MM1).***




      MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2019



  5. Big mistake. Blind denial and ignorance of the science. Kicking the pathogen can down the country road with those steel-toed cowboy boots. Trust me. the day will come when G&F and everyone else will rue this shortsighted policy decision.

    Speaking of which , once again we see that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is ill-named. It needs to be rebranded as Wyoming Game and LIVESTOCK Department , since the agency is beholden to the Stockgrowers above all else. Sorry to have to put that out there.

    P.S. – it’s becoming more apparent with each passing day that the most effective means of mitigating the spread of Chronic Weasting Disease —sit down for this — Wolves. Yup. Dang that Inconvenient Science and thousands of years of evolved Predator-Prey relationship on the Wyoming landscape. Not just CWD, either.

    1. The only problem with your suggestion is that we believe the Prions may be passed through the Predator chain as well…..Wolves (and Coyotes) may be passing it on as well.
      We have our first case in this region and in big debate right now on response methods.

      My only question is: How is it you people have been dealing with this for almost 40 years and have little to tell us about it than we already know?

      1. Hi Allan. Please remind me who believes prions are “passed through the predator chain as well.” If that means through defecation into the soil and into plants, yes. Predators do not carry CWD or pass it on nose to nose. They pass it through their system, and then it’s gone. The infected prey they kill stop producing and spreading it time and again.

      2. re-Allan Augustyn says June 11, 2019 at 3:24 pm The only problem with your suggestion is that we believe the Prions may be passed through the Predator chain as well…..Wolves (and Coyotes) may be passing it on as well…end

        YES! YES! YES!

        canine and feline are susceptible to the tse prion.


        Subject: DEER SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY SURVEY & HOUND STUDY Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 17:04:51 -0700 From: “Terry S. Singeltary Sr.” Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy To: BSE-L

        Greetings BSE-L,

        is there any other CWD surveys/testing in the UK on their deer? what sort of testing has been done to date on UK/EU deer? any input would be helpful… thank you


        3. This will be a low key study with no publicity to avoid unnecessary media interest. It will be carried out in two stages ;

        (I) A small scale examination of around 30 deer brains to establish the normal histology of the healthy brain; and

        (II) A larger scale random examination of 300 or more adult deer brains drawn from both deer farms and parks to establish whether there is any evidence of a cervine spongiform encephalopathy. …


        Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food Veterinary Investigation Centre West House. Station Road. Thirsk Y07 IPZ Telephone: 0845·522065 Fax: 0845·525224

        Your reference

        Our reference RJH/ASB

        Date 4 November 1992


        Dear Paul

        I have now found time to review the 10 deer- brains collected from Mr Walker farm··via Winchester Via Winchester VIC. In answer to your specific question was there sufficient difference in preservation of brain tissue to warrant the extra effort involved in rapid brain removal on the farm, the answer is definitely “Yes.” The original five brains (Winchester ref M487/11) showed varying degrees of autolytic vacuolation affecting both white and grey matter throughout the brain. vacuolation and separation of Purkinje cells and marked perivascular spaces. These artifacts made interpretation of subtle, specific pathological vacuolation more difficult. By contrast the second submission (Winchester reference N736/2) showed excellent preservation of white and grey matter. Any vacuolar Change present could be confidently interpreted as pathological albeit of unknown pathogenesis.

        I can only reiterate the comments made by Gerald Wells and myself at the preliminary discussion at Weybridge in Autumn 1991. If the survey’s purpose is an accurate histopathological interpretation of brain tissue. the material must be collected in a pristine state. This is particularly valid when looking for ar unrecognised and undefined spongiform encephalopathy in a new species. Deer brains are very large structures which take a lot of fixation and therefore must be handled sympathetically from the start. We have already seen the problems encountered in comparatively smaller hound brains where delayed fixation was a major limitation on interpretation of true pathological change.

        The bottom line must be that if a pathologist’s expertise is to be used, it is critical to collect artefact free brain material. If the politics or economics do not allow this, then I would suggest that an electron microscopy survey in­volving detection of scrapie associated fibrils would be much more appropriate.

        Best wishes Yours sincerely

        R J HIGGINS VIO 92/11.4/2.1



        I am sorry, but I really could have been a co-signatory of Gerald’s minute.

        I do NOT think that we can justify devoting any resources to this study, especially as larger and more important projects such as the pathogenesis study will be quite demanding.

        If there is a POLITICAL need to continue with the examination of hound brains then it should be passed entirely to the VI Service.

        J W WILESMITH Epidemiology Unit 18 October 1991

        Mr. R Bradley

        cc: Mr. G A H Wells


        ***> 3.3. Mr R J Higgins in conjunction with Mr G A Wells and Mr A C Scott would by the end of the year, identify the three brains that were from the ”POSITIVE” end of the lesion spectrum.



        ya’ll thought i was making this stuff up didn’t ya…i don’t make this stuff up!


        It is clear that the designing scientists must also have shared Mr Bradley’s surprise at the results because all the dose levels right down to 1 gram triggered infection.


        second supplementary


        MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2019