News Stories

No Mad Cow Disease From Deer

Three hunters recently died of Creutzfeldt-Jakobdisease, meaning chronic wasting disease, which affects deerand elk and is related to Mad Cow disease, can betransferred to humans by eating meat. CWD has become socommon in deer that hunting is seriously threatened in manyareas of the U.S. The hunting season starts in September,and Jack Ward Thomas, of the U.S. Forest Service, says, "Thespecter of 'mad deer' turning the human brain to Swisscheese is too important to ignore."

However, a current study shows that chronic wasting diseasecannot be passed to cows from affected deer. Since CWD isturning up all over the U.S., this is a big relief toranchers, because an epidemic of Mad Cow could cost the beefindustry billions of dollars. In the 1990s, Mad Cow diseaseinfected cattle in the U.K.and Europe, then spread to people who ate the infected meat,giving them the human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).More than 100 people died, mostly in the U.K.

In an ongoing 15 year study conducted by state governments,cattle are being placed near animals infected with chronicwasting disease, but so far, none of them has caught MadCow. "Cattle exposed via more natural routes of exposurehave shown no evidence of CWD," Thomas says. However, 13cattle that were given shots of chronic wasting diseasedirectly into their brains did develop the disease. Thestudy has 10 more years to go, but the five-year period isimportant because that?s when the disease would start toshow up.

It?s hard to know what we?re eating these days, so it?simportant to read ?Eating in the Dark? by KathleenHart,click here.

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