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 mink. It is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, believed to be caused by proteins called prions.[1] This disease is only known to affect adult mink.

Clinical diagnosis[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.

See also[edit]


  • Stanley B. Prusiner, Prion Biology and Diseases, second edition, 2004, United States of America