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Researchers Say CWD Has the Potential to Infect Humans

Paul A. Smith of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinal analyzes the report from researchers at Case Western Reserve University suggesting that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has the potential to infect humans.

The study, which used humanized transgenic mice, found signs of CWD infection in a small percentage of the test animals.

“These results indicate that the CWD prion has the potential to infect human (central nervous system) and peripheral lymphoid tissues and that there might be asymptomatic human carriers of CWD infection,” the researchers summarized.

A peer-reviewed paper of the findings is expected to be published later this year, perhaps as early as next month.

Until now, there has been no evidence that CWD can infect humans. State agencies, including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, though, have urged caution and recommended that deer taken from CWD-positive areas be tested before consumption.

In Michigan’s core CWD Management Zone, a nine-township area surrounding and including Meridian Township near East Lansing, it will be mandatory for hunters to check their deer. Also, in the three-county area of Ingham, Clinton and Shiawassee, hunters cannot bait. But people are encouraged to keep hunting, because the DNR needs as many checked deer as they can get to test how far the disease has spread in the deer herd. Checking deer will provide hunters with assurance that their deer is CWD-free before consumption, though. As Smith, who hunts in Wisconsin, writes,

deer with cwd

I’ve had most deer I’ve shot in the last 10 years tested for CWD. The information (all were negative) put my mind at ease for eating the meat as well as provided landowners with a valuable data point on the health of the local herd.

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