For nearly 18 yr, we evaluated susceptibility of captive mountain lions (Puma concolor) to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the face of repeated exposure associated with consuming infected cervid carcasses. Three mountain lions with a monomorphic prion protein gene (PRNP) sequence identical to that described previously for the species had access to parts of ≥432 infected carcasses during ≥2,013 feeding occasions, conservatively representing >14,000 kg of infected feed material, during May 2002 to March 2020. The proportion of diet in infected carcass material averaged 43% overall but differed from year to year (minimally 11%–74%). Most infected carcasses were mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus; ∼75%). We observed no clinical signs suggestive of progressive encephalopathy or other neurologic disease over the ∼14.5–17.9 yr between first known exposure and eventual death. Histopathology revealed no spongiform changes or immunostaining suggestive of prion infection in multiple sections of nervous and lymphoid tissue. Similarly, none of 133 free-ranging mountain lion carcasses sampled opportunistically during 2004–2020 showed immunostaining consistent with prion infection in sections of brainstem or lymph node. These findings align with prior work suggesting that CWD-associated prions face strong barriers to natural transmission among species outside the family Cervidae.

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