ClosedEnvironment & Energy

Systems biology and molecular ecology of Chronic Wasting Disease

PROJECT LEAD(S)/CO-LEAD(S) Debbie McKenzie & Dr. David Wishart (University of Alberta)
COMPETITION/ FUNDING OPPORTUNITY Genome Canada – 2015 Large-Scale Applied Research Competition: Natural Resources and the Environment
PROJECT START DATE October 1, 2016
PROJECT END DATE September 30, 2021

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious prion disease of deer, elk and moose, are slowly-progressing, fatal, brain-destroying diseases that are spreading throughout Canada and could infect and kill many of our ~2M cervids. This would affect those who rely on cervids for food and culture, affect ecosystems and biodiversity, and hurt our reputation as a wildlife destination. Among the major challenges: the rate/method of infection/spread is not fully known nor is the risk of contagion to humans and other mammals; therefore, management strategies lack the information necessary to be effective. The project aims to inform CWD biology, generate tools and a model for CWD detection in deer and in the environment, provide data to underpin management approaches, and identify management strategies through engagement with various stakeholders for ongoing surveillance. Collectively, these tools will provide an unprecedented “early detection/rapid response” approach for use by hunters and First Nations and by managers to promote effective surveillance and management strategies.

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