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Chronic Wasting Disease A Concern As Hunting Season Gears Up

chronic wasting disease hunting season 2012

Chronic wasting disease is a concern for hunters, and as the season starts to heat up, public health officials in Pennsylvania are advising those who hunt to stick closely to safety guidelines to avoid transmission of the illness.

Chronic wasting disease is similar to other fatal brain diseases caused by prions, most notably the one that caused the “mad cow disease” outbreak in the UK in the 90s. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy was at the root of the mad cow issue, transmitted through the consumption by humans of meat from cows sickened by the fatal disease.

Chronic wasting disease has not been a massive issue in most of the US where hunting is common and venison is appreciated — but public health officials hope to prevent the potential transmission of the prion disease to humans as well as population of deer, elk and other animals at risk.

In Pennsylvania, officials have been taking several preventive measures to protect hunters and game from chronic wasting disease — though the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that there is no proof the illness can “jump” from sickened animals to healthy humans.

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Christopher Cox, a spokesman for the CDC, confirmed in an email addressing the concerns:

“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that humans are at risk for (the disease) due to ingestion of meat from infected deer … Nonetheless, hunters should avoid eating meat from infected deer. Generally, it is not a good idea to eat meat from any sick animal.”

Pennsylvania newspaper the York Daily Record has published comprehensive chronic wasting disease safety guidelines for hunters in the 2012 season, including information on how to find “check stations” to identify potentially ill deer and elk.

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2 Responses to “Chronic Wasting Disease A Concern As Hunting Season Gears Up”

  1. Helane Shields

    Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a sister disease to mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy-BSE) — just as Alzheimer's and CJD (Creutzfeldt Jakob) are similar human prion diseases.

    Experts warn that farmed deer infected with CWD.
    pose significant risks to wild deer and elk in the same area: article=1717 2007
    "Potential for disease transmission from Fence‐Line Contact Between Wild.
    and Farmed Cervids".

    The so-called 'species barrier' between deer and livestock and deer and humans, is NOT foolproof:

    USDA/Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that 86% of livestock.
    IC inoculated with CWD prions from infected white-tailed deer went on to.
    develop prion disease.

    "… the species barrier from cervid to humans is prion.
    strain-dependent and humans can be vulnerable to novel cervid prion strains".

    "Our results have far-reaching implications for human health, since they indicate that cervid PrPSc can trigger the conversion of human PrPC into PrPSc, suggesting that CWD might be infectious to humans."

    Scientists identify the human strain as "CWD-huPrPSc".

    Back in 2004, the CDC expected CWD to manifest only as Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease. But Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner recently pointed out the many.
    different strains of prion diseases:

    "… they (prions) are actually capable of.
    multiplying in what he terms "alternative" shapes, with.
    each shape responsible for a different type of dementia."

    CDC article on the many hunters and game eaters who have developed prion diseases:

    Pennsylvania might want to reevaluate its enthusiasm for sewer sludge spreading: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified infectious human and animal prions as emerging pathogenic contaminants of concern in sewage sludge "biosolids".:

    In the July 3, 2010 issue of VETERINARY RECORD, renown prion expert Dr. Joel Pedersen, Univ/Wisconsin, stated: “Finally, the disposal of sludge was considered to represent the greatest risk of spreading (prion) infectivity to other premises.”.

    Helane Shields, Alton, NH

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