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How Does CWD Affect Me?

None known public health significance at this time. Research on non-human surrogates (primates, transgenic mice) has indicated that humans are not likely to contract CWD from contacting or eating an infected animal. However, CWD is one of a group of diseases termed transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Bovine spongiform encephalopahty (aka "mad cow disease") is a TSE that has been implicated in causing human deaths. Thus, human health agencies caution that known CWD-infected animals not be consumed by humans.

Can Humans Get CWD?

Chronic wasting disease is not known to be a disease of humans. Because some humans in Europe contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after presumably eating beef contaminated with BSE (mad cow disease) prion proteins, some feared that humans could also develop a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy after eating CWD-infected venison. Thus far, there is no evidence that this is likely. This is due to several lines of evidence, to wit:

1. The case rate for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Wyoming and Colorado is less than the national average of 1 in one million, yet CWD has been in these states for > 40 years.

2. In laboratory studies, prion protein-induced conversions of the normal human protein is low (< 3%), demonstrating a barrier at the molecular level that limits human susceptibility to CWD.

3. Laboratory mice genetically modified to express the normal human protein do not get CWD, even when the prion protein is inoculated directly into the brain.

4. After several years, primates given the CWD prion protein have not developed any disease.

Nonetheless to avoid any risk of contracting any disease, parts or products from any animal that looks sick, or tests positive for CWD, should not be eaten.

Chronic Wasting Disease Information
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