Researchers at UW Madison have made a new finding about the disease that threatens Wisconsin's deer herd. Researchers have known that the rogue proteins, or prions, that cause chronic wasting disease can remain in the soil for a long time. But now they've discovered that certain soils actually boost the prions' ability to infect. In fact, a group led by UW-Madison prion expert Judd Aiken found a common soil mineral can make the CWD prions as much as 700 times more infectious. (The researchers' findings are written up in the journal Public Library of Science (PLos) Pathogens ) What does that mean for efforts to combat the disease in Wisconsin? Aiken says efforts to reduce the number of deer is a good goal for combating CWD — but this research indicates that infected areas are likely to remain infected for some time.
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