Elk NetworkStudy: Ticks May Spread CWD

General | May 31, 2023

New research shows bothersome blood-sucking ticks may do much more than just pester hunters, hikers and others who enjoy the outdoors as well as their pets. They may assist with the spread of chronic wasting disease.

Published in the Scientific Reports Journal, researchers experimentally fed lab ticks with infected blood and fed other ticks with brain matter from wild whitetail deer that tested positive for the disease. They determined both sets of ticks have the ability to carry and release prions in CWD.

“The findings could inform CWD research and adaptive management efforts and deepen our understanding of ecologically critical drivers of CWD dynamics,” the study stated.

CWD is an always-fatal nervous system ailment found in deer, elk, moose and other cervids. So far, its presence is confirmed in 30 states and five Canadian provinces. Previous research shows it can be transmitted through direct animal to animal contact, contact with saliva, feces, carcass parts of an infected animal and through contaminated soil.