Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Project

Establishing a national tissue and reagents repository for chronic wasting disease

September 2021 - September 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Ecosystem Mission Area, Disease Cyclical Funds

Management of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been limited because the infectious proteins, called prions, responsible for CWD in wild cervids in 26 US states, are difficult to study. Tracking CWD as it progressed across the US since it’s discovery in the early 1980s has been hampered because studies of distinct strains of CWD has been lacking. Identification of distinct prion strains can inform management by targeting areas known to harbor CWD, thus prioritizing management of cervid populations with prion strains that have greater infection potential and those that are able to infect new species. Although the biology of prions has been well studied (they are responsible for mad cow disease), prion researchers have been unable to study prion strains throughout the US because samples have not been available for study. Therefore, a virtual repository to link CWD tissue sample locations would provide this important resource to researchers to aid management agencies in the US.