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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2011 May;23(3):407-20. doi: 10.1177/1040638711403404.

Experimental interspecies transmission studies of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies to cattle: comparison to bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle.

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Virus and Prion Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center-USDA-Agricultural Research Service, 1920 Dayton Avenue, PO Box 70, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


Prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) of animals include scrapie of sheep and goats; transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME); chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer, elk and moose; and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) of cattle. The emergence of BSE and its spread to human beings in the form of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) resulted in interest in susceptibility of cattle to CWD, TME and scrapie. Experimental cross-species transmission of TSE agents provides valuable information for potential host ranges of known TSEs. Some interspecies transmission studies have been conducted by inoculating disease-causing prions intracerebrally (IC) rather than orally; the latter is generally effective in intraspecies transmission studies and is considered a natural route by which animals acquire TSEs. The "species barrier" concept for TSEs resulted from unsuccessful interspecies oral transmission attempts. Oral inoculation of prions mimics the natural disease pathogenesis route whereas IC inoculation is rather artificial; however, it is very efficient since it requires smaller dosage of inoculum, and typically results in higher attack rates and reduces incubation time compared to oral transmission. A species resistant to a TSE by IC inoculation would have negligible potential for successful oral transmission. To date, results indicate that cattle are susceptible to IC inoculation of scrapie, TME, and CWD but it is only when inoculated with TME do they develop spongiform lesions or clinical disease similar to BSE. Importantly, cattle are resistant to oral transmission of scrapie or CWD; susceptibility of cattle to oral transmission of TME is not yet determined.

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