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Spongiform Encephalopathy found in Reindeer in Norway

A Spongiform Encephalopathy, referred to as Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, was diagnosed in a free-ranging reindeer from southern Norway in March 2016 by the Norwegian Veterinary Institute who are monitoring the reindeer herd.

It has been confirmed that this case of disease is associated with prion infection. Prions are miss-folded versions of proteins commonly associated with the central nervous system.

pdf DEFRA News Update (379 KB)  07/04/2016

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The Animal & Plant Health Agency became aware of the event on 5 April 2016, and alerted Defra.

DEFRA published in March 2016 a revised assessment of the risk of CWD to Great Britain. The revised assessment includes evaluation of the risks posed by importation of deer urine lures from North America to the UK, following the B.D.S survey on use of urine lures by stakeholders, see;

At present, there remain many unknowns with respect to the Norwegian case:

  • The origin of the prion is not known. Prions are transmissible between individuals within a species, and some are transmissible between species. However, they can also arise spontaneously. It is not yet possible to conclude whether this prion was imported into Norway or arose there independently.
  • It is not clear which prion has caused the disease in this reindeer. Scrapie in sheep and goats, BSE in cattle, FSE in cats, TME in mink, CWD in cervids and CJD in humans are all caused by prions. It is not possible clinically to distinguish between TSEs caused by prions from different sources (e.g. CWD and BSE) within the same species.

It is not clear whether this is a single case or is indicative of wider infection in the herd. However the Norwegian Veterinary Institute is continuing its routine surveillance, which detected this case.

The British Deer Society has been monitoring CWD in North America and has established connections throughout the scientific world on this topic, the Society is well informed and well connected, it will bring news on this event to you as soon as it is available, meantime we propose that we should all maintain our duty of care, and responsibilities if travelling around the world by being as hygienic as possible with our outdoor clothes and footwear and by minimising traffic in un-proven disease free animals or their body parts.

John Bruce
The British Deer Society