Lichens can cure chronic wasting disease in wildlife

This is another example of the way Mother Nature always provides a cure for any disease it creates. Scientists and ecologists have been fighting for about half a century with some kind of disorder they discovered in moose, wild elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer, on the American continent. This disease is called “chronic wasting disease” or CWD and it consists of important weight loss and abnormal behavior. After a certain period of time the infected animal will die. This disease is produced by a “prion”, which is a fraction of a protein that has infectious properties and can destroy some parts of the brain. Being so small and resistant, it is very difficult to destroy and it seems that more and more cases of CWD spread through the simple contact of the infected animal with a healthy one, or through infected soil. Also, there are no medicines for this disease, as it does not respond to antibiotics or any anti infection drugs.

This is the main reason of joy for the scientists who discovered that, in the lab, some enzymes found in lichens can break down the prions. Another very important fact is that lichens are naturally found in the wild, so the balance of nature won’t be disturbed by them. The lichens are neither a plant, nor an animal, but a symbiotic organism, made from algae, fungi and bacteria. This complex structure is probably the secret of their healing effect. It still remains to be seen if what has been discovered in lab conditions is going to prove right in nature. The ecologists and scientists hope that if the affected wildlife will consume the healing lichens, then the symptoms of chronic wasting disease will disappear and the animals will thus be saved from a tragic death. Although CWD has not spread to humans, the quicker it is eradicated, the better.

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