Categories: Hunting

Chronic Wasting Disease Proven to Travel from Deer to Primates

A recent study by Canadian scientists shows macaque monkeys contracted chronic wasting disease (CWD) after eating meat from CWD-positive deer.

According to jsonline the findings are the first known transmissions of the prion disease to a primate from eating diseased venison and have heightened concerns of human susceptibility to CWD.

“The assumption was for the longest time that chronic wasting disease was not a threat to human health,” said Stefanie Czub, prion researcher with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in remarks published Saturday in The Tyee a Vancouver, British Columbia, magazine. “But with the new data, it seems we need to revisit this view to some degree.”

This was in contrast to a 2014 studies that showed macaques did not contract CWD, however CDC officials did admit there was enough evidence at the time to suggest a low risk of contracting CWD from tissue exposure.

Can people get CWD from eating infected deer? That has not yet been proven but officials in the Canada and U.S. advise exercising caution.

“Our studies have shown that squirrel monkeys, but not cynomolgus macaques, were susceptible to CWD. Although these nonhuman primates are not exact models of human susceptibility, they support the data from transgenic mouse studies, in vitro experiments, and epidemiologic evidence that suggest humans are at a low risk of contracting CWD. Nevertheless, it remains sensible to minimize exposure to tissues potentially contaminated with the CWD agent.”

Until recently CWD had only been found in captive deer. A Jan. 18 inspection of a road-killed whitetail in the Panhandle showed the disease is also present in wild deer at some level according to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department sources.

This map shows the known distribution of Chronic Wasting Disease.

“A roadkill white-tailed deer collected by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel on U.S. Highway 87 between Dalhart and Hartley has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This marks the first discovery of CWD in a Texas roadkill and the first case in a Texas Panhandle whitetail.”

“The roadkill was found along the border between the current CWD Containment Zone and Surveillance Zone, and as a result will likely necessitate a precautionary expansion of the Containment Zone,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, State Wildlife Veterinarian with TPWD.

“We do not believe there’s a need to expand the Surveillance Zone at this time.”

The topic of CWD is highly controversial in Texas with deer ranches concerned the rules pertaining to it infringe on their operations and state officials concerned about the spread into wild deer populations.

We want to give you all points from both sides on the issue. This study gives no reason to be alarmed but it does give us reason to dig deeper into the topic. Expect more on it here at fishgame.com.

TF&G Staff

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