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RESEARCHER TELLS K-STATE SYMPOSIUM ONE VARIANT OF MAD COW DISEASE APPEARS TO BE MUCH MORE VIRULENT THAN CLASSICAL FORM

 

by Erinn Barcomb-Peterson

 

An atypical prion strain of mad cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BS, is more virulent than the classical strain, according to a researcher who spoke Nov. 14 at Kansas State University.

Qingzhong Kong from Case Western Reserve University presented "Chronic Wasting Disease and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy: Public Health Risk Assessment" at the Emerging Infections Symposium: A Tribute to the One Medicine, One Health Concept.

The symposium drew nearly 150 researchers from Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. Its major sponsors included the Kansas Bioscience Authority and the Heartland BioAgro Consortium, which is leading an effort to bring the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas. K-State is among five finalists for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a federal center for animal health.

The symposium commemorated the opening of Juergen Richt's laboratory at K-State. Richt is the Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology and Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar.

In September, Richt and colleague Mark Hall of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, published research findings that showed a genetic mutation in cattle can cause BSE, which is the first report of genetic prion disease in livestock.

In Kong's presentation, he also addressed chronic wasting disease. He said research with humanized transgenic mouse models has shown no transmission of the prevailing chronic wasting disease prion strain, but further research is needed to fully evaluate the diversity of chronic wasting diseases and their public health risks.