Ticks Found to Harbor and Release Prions of Chronic Wasting Disease

May 17, 2023 | Source: News Medical | by Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

In a recent study published in the Scientific Reports Journal, researchers combined experimental tick feeding with tick evaluations from wild white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to determine whether ticks may contain transmission-relevant amounts of chronic wasting disease (CWD)-associated prions (PrPCWD).


Natural means of the spread of CWD among free-roaming cervids have not been extensively investigated, and they may prolong the endemic increase and the disease’s vast geographic distribution.

Because cervids can carry significant tick infestations and exhibit allogrooming, a common tick defense technique between conspecifics, the presence of PrPCWD in the blood may constitute a danger for indirect transmission via hematophagous ectoparasites functioning as mechanical vectors. The contribution of ticks as mechanical carriers of CWD is unknown.

About the study

The present study investigated whether ticks harbor and excrete CWD prions and contribute to their indirect transmission.

Pathogen-free Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick) female and male adults were housed and fed a blood meal inoculated with a 10-3 dilution of CWD-positive brain (106 ng). They were exposed to CWD through membrane feeding.