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Article  Deer are beta-testing a nightmare disease ("end of world fer sure" Fermi paradox exp)

#1
C C Offline
https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/other/d...r-BB1hBP82

EXCERPTS: Scott Napper, a biochemist and vaccinologist at the University of Saskatchewan, can easily envision humanity’s ultimate doomsday disease. The scourge would spread fast, but the progression of illness would be slow and subtle. With no immunity, treatments, or vaccines to halt its progress, the disease would eventually find just about every single one of us, spreading via all manner of body fluids.

In time, it would kill everyone it infected. Even our food and drink would not be safe, because the infectious agent would be hardy enough to survive common disinfectants and the heat of cooking; it would be pervasive enough to infest our livestock and our crops. “Imagine if consuming a plant could cause a fatal, untreatable neurodegenerative disorder,” Napper told me. “Any food grown within North America would be potentially deadly to humans.”

This nightmare illness doesn’t yet exist. But for inspiration, Napper needs to look only at the very real contagion in his own lab: chronic wasting disease (CWD), a highly lethal, highly contagious neurodegenerative disease that is devastating North America’s deer, elk, and other cervids.

[...] What makes CWD so formidable is its cause: infectious misfolded proteins called prions. Prion diseases, which include mad cow disease, have long been known as terrifying and poorly understood threats. And CWD is, in many ways, “the most difficult” among them to contend with—more transmissible and widespread than any other known, Marcelo Jorge, a wildlife biologist at the University of Georgia, told me. Scientists are quite certain that CWD will be impossible to eradicate; even limiting its damage will be a challenge, especially if it spills into other species, which could include us. CWD is already a perfect example of how dangerous a prion disease can be. And it has not yet hit the ceiling of its destructive potential.

Among the world’s known infectious agents, prions are an anomaly, more like zombies than living entities. Unlike standard-issue microbes—viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi—prions are just improperly folded proteins, devoid of genetic material, unable to build more of themselves from scratch, or cleave themselves in two. To reproduce, they simply find properly formed proteins that share their base composition and convert those to their aberrant shape, through mostly mysterious means.

And because prions are slightly malformed versions of molecules that our bodies naturally make, they’re difficult to defend against. The immune system codes them as benign and ignores them, even as disease rapidly unfolds. “This is an entirely new paradigm of infectious disease,” Napper told me. “It’s a part of your own body that’s turning against you.”

And yet, we’ve managed to keep many prion diseases in check... (MORE - missing details)
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#2
C C Offline
Understanding chronic wasting disease in deer
https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1034140

EXCERPT: Through collecting and analyzing fecal samples from animals with and without CWD, a new collaborative study from Penn Vet and other researchers sheds light on how CWD impacts the gut microbiome and provides a potential tool for disease surveillance. The researchers found that several types of gut bacteria could differentiate between CWD-positive and -negative animals. Their paper “Prospective fecal microbiomic biomarkers for chronic wasting disease” was published in Microbiology Spectrum... (MORE - details, no ads)
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#3
confused2 Offline
I'm guessing early intervention involves killing any potentially infected animals and burning the bodies. I suspect the average resident of (say) LA would react rather badly to such measures if a prion infection appeared in humans. We tested Kuru - easily dealt with by a simple change of diet but the next one doesn't have to be that easy. Zombie apocalypse - Night of the Living Dead ..
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#4
Zinjanthropos Offline
I thought there was prion disease in humans. Remember coming across prion disease for Alzheimer’s patients when my MIL had dementia. Not sure if one and the same but related apparently. It’s infectious under certain circumstances/conditions (certain gene?) and made me appreciate the people who worked in the nursing home….I figured they knew.
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#5
confused2 Offline
I've never heard of dementia being infectious beyond "don't eat the patient" - this may be a convenient fiction so nurses are minimum wage types instead of needing specialists in hazmat suits. IDK.
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#6
Zinjanthropos Offline
(Feb 14, 2024 04:45 PM)confused2 Wrote: I've never heard of dementia being infectious beyond "don't eat the patient" - this may be a convenient fiction so nurses are minimum wage types instead of needing specialists in hazmat suits. IDK.

My bad. Shouldn’t rely on memory but I was in the right area with the gene, I think

https://www.healthline.com/health/prion-disease
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