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Prion Disease in Dromedary Camels, Algeria
Prion Conference 2018
 
O5 Prion Disease in Dromedary Camels 
 
Babelhadj B (1), Di Bari MA (2), Pirisinu L (2), Chiappini B (2), Gaouar SB (3), Riccardi G (2), Marcon S (2), Agrimi U (2), Nonno R (2), Vaccari G (2) (1) École Normale Supérieure Ouargla. Laboratoire de protection des écosystèmes en zones arides et semi arides University Kasdi Merbah Ouargla, Ouargla, Algeria; (2) Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Department of Food Safety, Nutrition and Veterinary Public Health, Rome, Italy (3) University Abou Bekr Bélkaid, Tlemcen, Algeria. 
 
Prions are responsible for fatal and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases including CreutzfeldtJakob disease in humans, scrapie in small ruminants and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Following the BSE epidemic and the demonstration of its zoonotic potential, general concerns have been raised on animal prions. 
 
Here we report the identification of a prion disease in dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) in Algeria and designate it as Camel Prion Disease (CPD). In the last years, neurological symptoms have been observed in adult male and female dromedaries presented for slaughter at the Ouargla abattoir. The symptoms include weight loss, behavioral abnormalities and neurological symptoms such as tremors, aggressiveness, hyper-reactivity, typical down and upwards movements of the head, hesitant and uncertain gait, ataxia of the hind limbs, occasional falls and difficult getting up. During 2015 and 2016, symptoms suggestive of prion disease were observed in 3.1% of 2259 dromedaries presented at ante-mortem examination. Laboratory diagnosis was obtained in three symptomatic dromedaries, sampled in 2016 and 2017, by the detection of typical neurodegeneration and disease-specific prion protein (PrPSc) in brain tissues. 
 
Histopathological examination revealed spongiform change, gliosis and neuronal loss preferentially in grey matter of subcortical brain areas. Abundant PrPSc deposition was detected in the same brain areas by immunohistochemistry and PET-blot. Western blot analysis confirmed the presence of PK-resistant PrPSc, whose N-terminal cleaved PK-resistant core was characterized by a mono-glycosylated dominant form and by a distinctive N-terminal cleavage, different from that observed in BSE and scrapie. 
 
PrPSc was also detected, by immunohistochemistry, in all sampled lymph nodes (cervical, prescapular and lumbar aortic) of the only animal from which they were collected. 
 
The PRNP sequence of the two animals for which frozen material was available, showed 100% nucleotide identity with the PRNP sequence already reported for dromedary camel. 
 
Overall, these data demonstrate the presence of a prion disease in dromedary camelswhose nature, origin and spread need further investigations. However, our preliminary observations on the rather high prevalence of symptomatic dromedaries and the involvement of lymphoid tissues, are consistent with CPD being an infectious disease. In conclusion, the emergence of a new prion disease in a livestock species of crucial importance for millions of people around the world, makes urgent to assess the risk for humans and to develop policies able to control the spread of the disease in animals and to minimize human exposure. 
 
 
 
CDC
 
New Outbreak of TSE Prion in NEW LIVESTOCK SPECIES

Mad Camel Disease

Volume 24, Number 6—June 2018 Research 

Prion Disease in Dromedary Camels, Algeria
Abstract
 
Prions cause fatal and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, scrapie in small ruminants, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). After the BSE epidemic, and the associated human infections, began in 1996 in the United Kingdom, general concerns have been raised about animal prions. We detected a prion disease in dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) in Algeria. Symptoms suggesting prion disease occurred in 3.1% of dromedaries brought for slaughter to the Ouargla abattoir in 2015–2016. We confirmed diagnosis by detecting pathognomonic neurodegeneration and disease-specific prion protein (PrPSc) in brain tissues from 3 symptomatic animals. Prion detection in lymphoid tissues is suggestive of the infectious nature of the disease. PrPSc biochemical characterization showed differences with BSE and scrapie. Our identification of this prion disease in a geographically widespread livestock species requires urgent enforcement of surveillance and assessment of the potential risks to human and animal health.
 
SNIP...

The possibility that dromedaries acquired the disease from eating prion-contaminated waste needs to be considered.
Tracing the origin of prion diseases is challenging. In the case of CPD, the traditional extensive and nomadic herding practices of dromedaries represent a formidable factor for accelerating the spread of the disease at long distances, making the path of its diffusion difficult to determine. Finally, the major import flows of live animals to Algeria from Niger, Mali, and Mauritania (27) should be investigated to trace the possible origin of CPD from other countries.
Camels are a vital animal species for millions of persons globally. The world camel population has a yearly growth rate of 2.1% (28). In 2014, the population was estimated at ≈28 million animals, but this number is probably underestimated.. Approximately 88% of camels are found in Africa, especially eastern Africa, and 12% are found in Asia. Official data reported 350,000 dromedaries in Algeria in 2014 (28).
On the basis of phenotypic traits and sociogeographic criteria, several dromedary populations have been suggested to exist in Algeria (29). However, recent genetic studies in Algeria and Egypt point to a weak differentiation of the dromedary population as a consequence of historical use as a cross-continental beast of burden along trans-Saharan caravan routes, coupled with traditional extensive/nomadic herding practices (30).
Such genetic homogeneity also might be reflected in PRNP. Studies on PRNP variability in camels are therefore warranted to explore the existence of genotypes resistant to CPD, which could represent an important tool for CPD management as it was for breeding programs for scrapie eradication in sheep.
In the past 10 years, the camel farming system has changed rapidly, with increasing setup of periurban dairy farms and dairy plants and diversification of camel products and market penetration (13). This evolution requires improved health standards for infectious diseases and, in light of CPD, for prion diseases.
The emergence of another prion disease in an animal species of crucial importance for millions of persons worldwide makes it necessary to assess the risk for humans and develop evidence-based policies to control and limit the spread of the disease in animals and minimize human exposure. The implementation of a surveillance system for prion diseases would be a first step to enable disease control and minimize human and animal exposure. Finally, the diagnostic capacity of prion diseases needs to be improved in all countries in Africa where dromedaries are part of the domestic livestock.

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