Transmissible mink encephalopathy
Transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) is rare sporadic disease that affects the central nervous system of ranch-raised mink. It is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. This disease is only known to affect adult mink.
Clinical signs of TME include the characteristic behavioural changes such as confusion, loss of cleanliness, and aimless circling. Affected animals show signs of weight loss, might develop matted fur, hind-quarter ataxia and arching its tail over its back. Seizures may very rarely occur. Near-death stages include the animals showing signs of drowsiness and are not responsive.
There are currently no tests 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 expected 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.
- Stanley B. Prusiner, Prion Biology and Diseases, second edition, 2004, United States of America