Dr. Berg's Research Presented at Epidemics Conference

February 13, 2020 / By: CISC Department

CISC Assistant Professor Sergey Berg's ongoing research on Chronic Wasting Disease was recently presented at the 7th International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics (EPIDEMICS7). The presentation detailed joint research conducted by Sergey Berg, CISC alumn Douglas Weber, and University of Minnesota Associate Professors Dr. Meggan Craft and Dr. James Forester.

Since its inception in 2012, the conference has been devoted to exploring dynamics of infectious diseases of both humans and animals and regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. The full title and abstract is below.



Intensive Localized Culling as a Management Tool for Chronic Wasting Disease in White-Tailed Deer



Introduction: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease of deer, elk, and moose that is transmitted through direct animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through contact with prions deposited by infected animals. Because prions can remain bio-available and infectious in the environment for at least two years after being deposited, herd reduction via wide-scale culling has thus far proven to be insufficient to halt the spread of CWD. Localized management in the form of intensive, non-selective culling of deer over a small geographical area (e.g., <5km2), may provide a suitable alternative for management of CWD in white-tailed deer. By creating within the population persistent, low density areas that are not encroached upon by neighbouring animals for at least five years, we believe that localized management can limit the number of susceptible deer that are exposed to a prion-contaminated environment until those prions degrade and are no longer infectious.

Methods: We use simulation models to compare the effectiveness of different scales of localized management to wide-scale herd reduction in controlling the spread of CWD through deer populations of varying densities.

Results: Our results suggest that intensive removal of deer over a small area may provide a more effective control strategy than the broad-scale approaches currently used to manage CWD, without severely reducing overall abundance. Although this method was very efficient at preventing the spread of CWD in low-density populations, it was less effective at higher deer densities, although still more efficient than other control strategies.

Discussion: We recommend that this method be incorporated into ongoing adaptive management of CWD in white-tailed deer and stress the importance of improving our understanding of prion persistence in the environment and the relative importance of direct and indirect modes of transmission in driving observed disease dynamics.