Glossary of CWD Terms

CWD is a complicated topic.  If trying to become better informed, you will find understanding these terms will be a big help:

TSE Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy , a group of incurable fatal diseases. Some are contagious. Almost always species-specific. TSE’s behave much differently than generally understood viral or bacterial diseases.
Prion A malformed or “misfolded” protein with the ability to cause healthy proteins to similarly malform.  They are the agent responsible for TSEs. They are not a virus and not a bacteria.  Their method of infection generally sidesteps the immune system.
BSE (Mad Cow) Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.  Also known as Mad Cow disease.  A TSE that affects cattle. Unique among TSEs in that it jumped from its host species to humans. Not contagious through contact or soil, but is transferred through the consumption of bone, brain and nervous tissues from an infected animal. Some of these tissues were commonly included in commercial livestock feed before the disease was understood. Changes in the animal feed industry and meat processing practices have nearly eliminated BSE.
CJD Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease [ˈkroits-felt ˈyah-kawp], the human TSE.  Afflicts about 1 of every million humans worldwide.  The average age for symptoms to appear is 68.  The USA has about 200 CJD fatalities annually.  It is not contagious.
vCJD Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease.  This confusing term is the label scientists assign to BSE (Mad Cow) when it jumps species to infect a human.  It is a completely different TSE than CJD.  A couple of hundred people worldwide have died of vCJD since an outbreak that was mostly concentrated in Britain, where it killed 28 humans in the year 2000, at its peak.  The average age for symptoms to appear is 26.  Consumption of BSE infected beef products is thought to be the cause.  Only 4 cases of vCJD have ever been found in the US, each believed to have been contracted overseas. vCJD has been nearly eliminated as a result of progress against BSE, and new processing practices which exclude nervous tissues from meat products.
Scrapie A contagious TSE of domestic sheep and goats. First documented in England nearly 300 years ago but only recently identified as a TSE.
Cervid An animal from the taxonomic family “cervidae”. Whitetail, Mule Deer, Elk, Moose and Caribou are cervids native to North America. Some non-native cervids commercially raised in North America are Reindeer, Red Deer (often crossbred with elk), Sika Deer, Axis Deer and Fallow Deer.
CWD Chronic Wasting Disease. A contagious TSE affecting cervids. Transmissible via animal to animal contact and via contact with soil contaminated by the saliva, urine, feces and eventually the carcasses of infected cervids. Contaminated soil remains infectious for many years, the exact duration not yet known. Though TSE’s specific to a few domesticated or confined species have been documented, CWD is the only contagious TSE known to spread among wild free ranging animals anywhere in the world. There are many cervid species around the world, but CWD has so far only been detected in the US, Canada, an isolated infection in South Korean resulting from the importation of infected breeding stock from North American game farms, and in 2016 found in Norway in wild Reindeer and Moose.
Captive Cervid Industry An industry involving the trade in and confinement of privately owned cervids such as deer and elk behind escape resistant fencing for breeding, shooting and other purposes.
Zoonotic A word often appearing in research, describing a disease which can transmit from animals to humans.

If you do not have scientific training and find yourself trying to read actual research papers on CWD, it is best to look at the beginning (which will normally be an “abstract” or brief summary) and the end, which will normally be a detailed summary or discussion of the results.  It is common that what falls between is usually written for other researchers and may be tough to follow without a MUCH longer glossary.