Could plants be a source of prion diseases in animals?

Prions linked to chronic wasting disease, a deadly disease of deer that has spread to 17 states with no signs of stopping, can be taken up by plants, which were shown to be infectious in mice, according to new research. "Our results suggest that prions are taken up by plants and that contaminated plants may represent a previously unrecognized risk of human, domestic species and wildlife exposure to CWD," according to the study abstract by researcher Christopher Johnson. Although it's not clear to what extent, if any, CWD poses a threat to humans and non-cervid species, prions are associated with scrapie in goats and sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cows and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

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Wausau Daily Herald (Wis.) (tiered subscription model), The

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