While there may be several known aspects of Chronic Wasting Disease, CWD is mostly a mystery to scientists and researchers. This is due in part to the fact that the disease is neither viral nor bacterial, but rather is caused by an abnormal protein referred to as a prion. Prions are neither alive nor dead. You can’t kill a prion with heat or chemicals. Though not related, CWD is similar to another deadly prion disease; bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.
Something most people are probably already aware of is a study from 2009 involving the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that suggested people who consume deer and elk with chronic wasting disease would be protected from infection because of the inability of the CWD infectious agent to cross species and spread to people. What you may not have known is Dr. Bruce Chesebro, chief of the Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases and at the center of the study, was quoted as saying, “We plan to continue this study for at least several more years because, although the risk to macaques (monkeys) so far appears to be low, we know that these diseases can take more than 10 years to develop.”
About the same time this update was released, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, with the University of Calgary, began their own study. The results released in 2017 (less than 10 years after Dr. Chesebro’s statement) are alarming. During the more current project, 18 macaques were exposed to CWD in an assortment of different means. So far, results are available from five of the animals. Of two monkeys that were exposed to CWD by direct introduction into the brain, one that was fed infected brain material and two that were fed infected meat, ALL have become infected with Chronic Wasting Disease. This has shown CWD’s ability to leap what was initially thought to be a safe species barrier from infection.
While hunter’s await a resolution to this anxious dilemma, their action should be clear – have your harvest tested as soon as possible. Most state agencies have set up testing which requires the removal of the lymph glands and/or brain and can take several weeks for results to be delivered back to the hunter.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Wildlife Corporation (SAWCorp) has developed a simple blood test that can determine if deer or elk meat has been infected with CWD. The two-component system is comprised of the blood sample kit that is used at the harvest site by the hunter. A blood sample is then dropped in the mail with a prepaid envelope addressed to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center. Results are delivered back to the sender within 10 days. The price of the blood sample field kit is currently $9.95.
SAWCorp has submitted this test and is awaiting approval from the USDA, with the ultimate goal of using these advanced testing technologies to help ranchers, federal and state wildlife agencies and producers better manage their deer and elk herds. In the meantime, it is now available to hunters for immediate use.
For more information, visit their website at www.cwddeertest.com.
Company Name: SAWCorp
Contact Person: Blake Ashby, Manager, SAWCorp
Country: United States