Transmissible mink encephalopathy

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Transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) is a rare sporadic disease that affects the central nervous system of ranch-raised adult mink. It is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, caused by proteins called prions.[1]

Clinical signs[edit]

This illness has a minimum incubation period of 7 months with a maximum of 12 months. This disease results in mortality of adult animals.[2]

Clinical signs of TME include the characteristic behavioural changes such as confusion, loss of cleanliness, and aimless circling. An affected animal shows signs of weight loss, might develop matted fur, hindquarter ataxia, and its tail arched over its back. Seizures may very rarely occur. Near-death stages include the animal showing signs of drowsiness and unresponsiveness.


Currently, no tests are available to detect signs of this illness in live animals. However, veterinary pathologists can confirm this illness by microscopic examination of the brain tissue in animals suspected to have died of this disease, where they expect to detect areas of distinct sponge-like formations, or by the identification of the prion protein in these tissue samples.


Transmissible mink encephalopathy was first noticed in 1947 on a mink farm in the United States, in Brown County, Wisconsin, but the disease was not reported in the scientific literature until 1965.[3] The most recent outbreak occurred in 1985, on a farm in the town of Stetsonville, also in Wisconsin.[4] Outbreaks of TME have also occurred in Canada, Finland, Germany, and the former Soviet Union.[5]

See also[edit]


  • Stanley B. Prusiner, Prion Biology and Diseases, second edition, 2004, United States of America
  1. ^ "Phenotypic Similarity of Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy in Cattle and L-type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in a Mouse Model". CDC.
  2. ^ "Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy" (pdf). Centre for Food Security and Public Health. October 2008.
  3. ^ Liberski, PP; Sikorska, B; Guiroy, D; Bessen, RA (2009). "Transmissible mink encephalopathy - review of the etiology of a rare prion disease". Folia Neuropathologica. 47 (2): 195–204. PMID access
  4. ^ Imran, Muhammad; Mahmood, Saqib (1 November 2011). "An overview of animal prion diseases". Virology Journal. 8: 493. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-493. PMC 3228711. PMID 22044871.
  5. ^ Mathiason, Candace K. (2017). "Scrapie, CWD, and transmissible mink encephalopathy". Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science. 150: 267–292. doi:10.1016/bs.pmbts.2017.07.009. PMID 28838664.