Researchers find CWD proteins in wild, work toward cure - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Researchers find CWD proteins in wild, work toward cure

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CWD is most widely spread in the greater Colorado area. The disease is also found in southern Wisconsin and western Canada. CWD is most widely spread in the greater Colorado area. The disease is also found in southern Wisconsin and western Canada.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Scientists at UW Madison say they found the particles responsible for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer, local water and soil.

Scientists have long suspected they might find the prions in nature, but haven't been able to detect the proteins until now.

The researchers said finding these particles is the first step toward understanding how to stop the spread of this and other diseases.

"Prions are responsible for infectious diseases like CWD but also Mad Cow Disease, Sheep Scabie and several other human diseases as well," said Joel Pedersen, a Soil Science Professor at UW Madison and lead researcher on the project.

The proteins, called prions, were found mainly in feeding and baiting sites where deer congregate. That means scientists might stop the spread of the disease by keeping deer from congregating, Pedersen says.

CWD is also spread through direct contact with an infected animal. 

About 6 percent of deer tested last year had CWD, down 3% from its peak in 2015.

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