Diseases / Miscellaneous / Multi-factorial / Metabolic Diseases / Chronic Wasting Disease of Deer and Elk / Detailed Disease Description:

< > Literature Reports of DISEASE DURATION (FROM FIRST SIGNS TO DEATH) IN INDIVIDUAL ANIMALS for CWD of Deer and Elk:

Disease Duration (from first signs to Death or Euthanasia) in Individual Animals

Editorial Overview (Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Disease page - CWD of Deer and Elk)
  • In cervids the duration of the clinical course ranges from days to about a year and is generally a few weeks to a few months; it has been reported as two weeks to eight months in captive mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus - Mule deer), one to twelve months in captive elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni - Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus elaphus - Red deer)). It has been suggested that the time course in free-living animals is generally shorter than that seen in captive animals. In white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer) the time course is similar to that in mule deer but may tend to be shorter; a much shorter time course of only a few days, or even acute death, has been seen in some individuals of this species.
  • Experimental infection by intracerebral inoculation of infectious material into other species has produced in domestic cattle (Bos taurus - Domestic cattle) calves disease with a clinical course lasting two to three months to recumbency and euthanasia, and in ferrets (Mustela putorius fero - Domestic ferret (Mustela putorius - Polecat)) one to six weeks from the first clinical signs to death or euthanasia in extremis, reduced to one to four weeks on the first serial passage and one to three weeks on subsequent passages. 

Limited data on other TSE diseases is provided in literature reports below the information on CWD. Information on these diseases within the "Chronic Wasting Disease of Deer and Elk" volume of Wildpro is provided for comparative purposes and is not intended to be comprehensive.

Source Information CWD of Deer and Elk
  • Long clinical course in deer (Cervidae), usually months. (J64.11.w3)
  • Days to more than one year, usually a few weeks to several months. (P10.67.w1)
  • "A few days to about a year, with most animals surviving from a few weeks to 3-4 months." (J40.66.w1)
  • A few days to about a year; mainly a few weeks to 3-4 months. In deer acute death may occur occasionally. (J40.66.w1)
  • The clinical course is probably shorter in free-ranging cervids than in captive cervids, since the disease may affect their ability to forage and find water and may increase their susceptibility to predation. (J40.66.w1, J64.21.w17)
  • Clinical signs such as weight loss, hair coat deterioration, ears down, lethargy and increased drinking usually last less than 30 days for cervids in captivity and often about one to two weeks. Very subtle signs may be detectable earlier in animals under restraint, for example in a handling chute. (V.w49)
  • Symptoms appear several months before death. (B336.78.w78)

Cervus elaphus nelsoni - Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus elaphus - Red deer):

  • Clinical course of one to six months. Individuals in captive wildlife research facilities in Colorado and Wyoming. (J1.18.w7)
  • "Clinical and gross findings suggested the course of disease was more acute in free-ranging deer and elk than in captive conspecifics." (P2.42.w1)
  • Clinical disease course of five to12 months (mean 7.5 months) before definite clinical diagnosis and euthanasia in four female elk from a cohort hand-reared at a wildlife research facility in Colorado in 1986. (J1.34.w6)
  • Three week history of clinical signs in a captive elk in Korea. (J27.64.w1)

Odocoileus hemionus - Mule deer:

  • Course of two weeks to eight months; insidious onset. Deer in captive wildlife research facilities in Colorado and Wyoming. (P2.29.w1, J1.16.w10)
  • Seven weeks (to euthanasia) in one of two fawns following experimental infection by intracranial inoculation of a suspension of brain tissue from an affected mule deer. (P2.31.w1)
  • "Clinical and gross findings suggested the course of disease was more acute in free-ranging deer and elk than in captive conspecifics." (P2.42.w1)
  • Usually one to four months between onset of clinical signs and death or euthanasia but in two individuals as long as nine and 13 months. (J223.83.w1)

Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer:

  • "Clinical and gross findings suggested the course of disease was more acute in free-ranging deer and elk than in captive conspecifics." (P2.42.w1)
  • In a few white tailed deer the course of disease has been short with animals dying acutely or after only a few days of recognisable illness. (B294.10.w10)
  • Usually one to four months between onset of clinical signs and death or euthanasia. (J223.83.w1)
  • The length of the clinical course may be similar to that seen in mule deer but may tend to be shorter. (V.w51)
  • The presence of PrPCWD in tonsillar tissue was confirmed 2-18 months prior to death; in one case PrPCWD was found ion an animal which died from non-CWD related causes 18 months after the PrPCWD-positive biopsy. (J223.83.w1)

Bos taurus - Domestic cattle:

  • Approximately 2-3 months from first clinical signs to euthanasia in two calves following intracerebral inoculation of a suspension of brain tissue from affected mule deer; a third calf was euthanased after a few days of acute lameness followed by recumbency. (J212.13.w1)

Mustela putorius fero - Domestic ferret (Mustela putorius - Polecat):

  • One to six weeks to death or euthanasia in extremis. Experimental infection by intracranial inoculation of a suspension of brain tissue from an affected mule deer. (P2.31.w1)
  • One to six weeks clinical signs prior to euthanasia following experimental infection by intracranial inoculation of a suspension of brain tissue from an affected mule deer, reduced to one to four weeks on the first serial passage and one to three weeks on subsequent passages. (J20.251.w1)

Other TSE Diseases

Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy:

Mustela vison - American mink:

  • Up to two to six weeks in females, generally shorter periods in males. Data from three epizootics on eight or nine mink farms in Wisconsin, USA in 1947, 1961 and 1963. (J100.115.w1)
  • USA: Ontario 1963. Three animals were reported to have deteriorated over a period of about two weeks prior to euthanasia. Data from an outbreak in Ontario, USA in 1963. (J14.9.w1)
  • Clinical illness lasted 2-6 weeks. (J223.72.w1)
  • Typically two to seven weeks, occasionally as short as one week or prolonged to several months. Early death sometimes occurs in cold weather. (J64.11.w5)
  • Variable from 2-3 days to six weeks, following experimental inoculation at various sites (peripheral and intracerebral) with the Hayward strain of TME. (J13.30.w1)

Bos taurus - Domestic cattle:

  • Following intracerebral inoculation of mink brain affected with Stetsonville strain of TME into two six-week-old Holstein bull calves, euthanasia of one animal after 24 hours since unable to return to standing, and euthanasia of the second after four days. (J223.72.w1)
  • Following intracerebral inoculation with Hayward isolate, 65-93 days, with Blackfoot isolate 45-95 days and with cattle-passaged Stetsonville isolate 55-80 days, to euthanasia when unable to maintain sternal recumbency or in one animal (inoculated with Blackfoot isolate) sudden death.(J42.113.w1)

Procyon lotor - Common Raccoon:

  • Following intracerebral inoculation with Wisconsin isolate TME agent, 7-17 days from the development of locomotor signs to euthanasia. Behavioural changes were seen for 1-2 weeks and in one animal about five weeks prior to other signs. (J1.9.w2)

Mephitis mephitis - Striped skunk (Mustelidae - Weasels (Family)):

  • Several weeks [text unclear regarding duration of behavioural and locomotor signs]. Following intracerebral inoculation with Wisconsin isolate TME agent.(J1.9.w2)

Capra hircus - Domestic goat:

  • Following intracerebral inoculation of the Idaho strain of TME, about six weeks to death or euthanasia when close to death. (J240.51.w1)

Ovis aries - Domestic sheep:

  • Following intracerebral inoculation of the Idaho strain of TME, initially 3-23 weeks (mean 10 weeks), on first passage 5-25 weeks, mean 14 weeks and on second passage 7-12 weeks, mean 10 weeks. (J240.51.w1)

Scrapie:

  • Generally one to six months although a case with clinical signs lasting only two weeks has been reported.(J64.11.w4)
  • May be as short as two weeks occasionally, more usually 1-2 months of clinical illness and sometimes as long as six months. (B298.10.w10)
    • The insidious onset and equivocal early signs make it difficult to give a precise upper limit for length of the clinical course. (B298.10.w10)
  • Following oral inoculation, clinical signs usually for 3-135 days before death, but longer (213 and 539 days) periods of illness were seen in two individuals. (J223.78.w2)
  • Progressive development over months: usually 2-3 months, sometimes as little as one month or as long as five months (in Iceland). (B292.w16)

Ovis aries - Domestic sheep:

  • Two to 12 months but generally about six months. (B207)

Capra hircus - Domestic goat:

  • Six weeks to three months to euthanasia in advanced or terminal disease. (J26.17.w1)
  • Two to three weeks in initial cases, later two to three months prior to death or slaughter, in three herds in Italy. (J3.143.w6)
  • Two to 24 weeks in cases of natural disease. (B207)

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE):

Acinonyx jubatus - Cheetah (Felidae - Cats (Family)):
  • Approximately four weeks from first observed signs to euthanasia. (J24.69.w1)
  • Progression of neurological signs over a period of eight weeks prior to euthanasia on humane grounds. (J2.26.w2)
  • Seven weeks from first signs to euthanasia due to intercurrent respiratory infection. (J3.141.w5)
  • In "Duke" 30 days from first clinical signs to death; about 42 days of clinical signs in "Saki". (J3.135.w1)

Bos taurus - Domestic cattle:

  • Generally one to six months from first signs to severity requiring slaughter. (J3.121.w5)
  • Variable from less than one month (66/192 cases) to as long as 12-14 months or more in a few cases, before slaughter due to unmanageable behaviour, traumatic damage due to repeated falling or prolonged recumbency; to death in 7/192 cases. Data from 192 cases. (J3.123.w2)
  • Short disease course (up to 14 days) in a minority of cases (7/192). (J3.123.w2)

Felis catus - Domestic cat:

  • Approximately twelve weeks in a neutered male Siamese cat. (J3.129.w3)
  • Approximately three months. (J3.127.w4)
  • Approximately eight to twelve weeks in four cases. (J3.129.w3)

Felis concolor - Puma (Felis - (Genus)):

  • Six days. (J3.131.w2)
Oryx dammah - Scimitar oryx:
  • Eighteen days. (J3.135.w1)
Oryx gazella - Gemsbok:
  • [Data not provided]. (J26.25.w1)
Oryx leucoryx - Arabian oryx:
  • Twenty two days. (J3.127.w3)

Taurotragus oryx - Eland:

  • Eight days. (J3.126.w3)
  • Clinical signs lasted for 14 to 21 days in three animals. (J3.135.w1)
Tragelaphus angasii - Nyala:
  • Three weeks (to euthanasia). (J26.25.w1)

Tragelaphus strepsiceros - Greater kudu:

  • Three days. (J3.127.w3)
  • Less than 12 hours from onset to euthanasia due to deterioration. (J3.130.w3)
  • Approximately one day from onset to euthanasia on humane grounds. (J3.132.w1)
  • Eight weeks to euthanasia due to progressive neurological signs. (J3.134.w4)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD):

Homo sapiens - Human:

  • Median duration four months with 50% of cases 2.5-6.5 months (data from 185 cases since May 1990). (J98.347.w1)
  • For 234 cases of sporadic CJD, duration one to 130 months, mean eight months, median 4.5 months. (B297.2.w2)
    • Unusual forms exist with a rapid course, onset and evolution resembling stroke, in about 6% of cases or with a prolonged course, greater than two years, in about 4-6% of cases. (B297.2.w2)
    • In GSS (Gerstmann Straussler Scheinker syndrome): mean duration 59 months, range 13-132 months. (B297.2.w2)
    • In FFI (Fatal Familial Insomnia): mean duration 13 months. (B297.2.w2)

New variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD):

Homo sapiens - Human:

  • Duration to death of 7.5-22.5 months, median 12 months. (J98.347.w1)

Kuru:

Homo sapiens - Human:

  • About 12 months. (B292.w6)
  • Generally six to nine months and rarely more than 12 months. (B298.15.w15)

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Authors & Referees

Authors Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Suzanne I Boardman BVMS MRCVS (V.w6)

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