Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is essentially the same as mad cow disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and other deadly prion diseases. To avoid confusion and to keep the conversation accurate, it’s best to describe all of these as prion disease. There are thousands, if not millions, of mutations of prions. No two cases of the disease are the same. Some strike extremely fast, while others take longer to exhibit clinical symptoms. All cases, however, are fatal. All cases are transmissible.
The scientific name for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is transmissible.
Prion disease strikes most mammals, including deer, elk, moose, reindeer and other mammals. In this form, prion disease is being called chronic wasting disease. When prions kill livestock, it’s called mad cow disease. When it kills people, we call it Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Alzheimer’s disease. There is no significant species barrier against prion disease. A deadly prion is a deadly prion. Because of the infectious waste associated with prion disease, humans are spreading prion disease to wildlife and wildlife are spreading prion disease to people now.
Thousands of hunters across North America take to the wilds to hunt deer, elk and moose. They are being lied to about the dangers of chronic wasting disease. It’s happening in every state that has detected chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, elk, moose and other species. This misinformation campaign also is well under way in states that have not detected this deadly disease in wildlife. These states have surveillance programs designed to keep hunters and their wallets coming back for more. It’s time for hunters, ranchers, wildlife conservationists and all outdoor enthusiasts to rally for truth and reforms that can save lives, businesses and entire ecosystems. Sick wildlife are a symptom of a much bigger problem.
The world is experiencing an explosive protein epidemic right now and there is no end in sight. People and animals around the world are being attacked by a form of killer protein called a prion (PREE-on).
These deadly prions are contagious and unstoppable. These protein predators are killing deer, elk and moose in North America. CWD jumped the Atlantic ocean to Norway. Further proof that CWD comes from the prions in sewage sludge , not just nose-to-nose contact. Prions also are the pathogen that causes mad cow disease among livestock. Few, if any, mammals are immune.
A Nobel-Prize-winning scientist claims that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases all are prion diseases. These corrupt proteins might even play a role in autism. A study in Canada is underway now. We might even find that proteins impact cancer development because prion disease progresses in a fashion similar to cancer. Unfortunately, prions are much more aggressive and they can survive outside of the bodies of its victims.
Species Barrier A Myth
Chronic wasting disease and prions have ravaged deer and elk in Colorado and Wyoming since the 1960s. Now prion disease is killing moose and other unknown species as it mutates and spreads. It’s alleged that Colorado State University (CSU) unleashed the disease into wild animals by injecting infected human brains into captive deer to see if the disease would spread to other species. My theory is that there are many prion pathways that are contributing to an overall buildup and spread of thousands of mutations into our food, water, homes, offices and beyond.
Prion disease was first identified in captive mule deer at CSU in 1967. Because of alleged reckless management, prion disease made it to the wild deer populations in 1981. Unfortunately, there are many ways that prions are being spread throughout the environment.
Researchers recognized CWD as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) in 1978. The operative word is “transmissible.”
So far, no strong evidence of CWD transmission back to humans has been confirmed, but there is no evidence that a species barrier exists between infected wildlife and humans. The best available science shows that livestock with prion disease are highly infectious. People with prion disease are highly infectious. Deer are infected by more than one mutation of prion, so statements about false security are reckless, negligent and criminal.
If it’s a bad idea to eat tissue or fluids from an animal with mad cow disease, why would it be safe to assume that people can eat deer and elk that are infected with prions? It would be foolish to make such an assumption.
If deer can get prion disease from humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and sick cattle, my guess is that the disease agent travels both directions. After all, prions migrate, mutate, multiply and kill. The symptoms may vary slightly based on the species infected, but most prion diseases follow similar progressions and have similar symptoms. They all kill with ruthless efficiency. Prions are unstoppable. All prions are deadly. A deadly prion is a deadly prion regardless of source.
Animals with CWD drool and attempt to urinate excessively. Water seems to scare them, so dehydration contributes to their collapse. Sick deer and elk ultimately become oblivious to most of the world around them, which makes them easy prey for hunters. CWD now stretches from Canada to the Mexican border, if not beyond. The map will expand every year. Unfortunately, the impacted states are becoming more passive as the disease aggressively spreads.
In Wisconsin, for example, the number of deer being tested has declined, while the rate of infection has increased. Between 2002 (the first full year after CWD was discovered in Wisconsin) and 2006, an average of more than 25,000 deer a year were tested. Between 2007 and 2012, the average was just more than 8,000.
“Deer hunting generates more than $500 million in retail sales and over $1 billion in total impact to the state’s economy,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Regional Wildlife Manager Mike Zeckmeister. “A healthy whitetail deer population is critical to the state’s economy.”
Meanwhile, the incidence of CWD has a tenfold increase in the past 10 years. In Iowa County, the infection rate in 2013 was approximately 50 percent. Wisconsin has more than 600,000 deer hunters who regularly harvest 300,000 to 400,000 deer annually. The state has spent $43 million trying to stop the disease. It has failed miserably for many reasons. Now, it’s likely a numbers game before people start getting the disease from the sick deer. Not only are the deer infectious, but they also are contaminating the soil and the water supply.
“All indications are that under current policy, CWD will continue to spread across the state and will increase in prevalence where it already is established,” said Dave Clausen, a veterinarian who serves on the Wisconsin‘s Natural Resources Board.
In fact, the Wisconsin DNR paid nearly half a million dollars to purchase land that was previously a private deer farm. The state shut it down because its herd tested positive for CWD. DNR bought the farm to keep wild deer off the contaminated soil. Unfortunately, thanks to sick wildlife and the spread of human waste (biosolids), Wisconsin would have to quarantine most of the state to isolate prion risks in soil.
The deadly deer and elk disease now straddles the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. In parts of Wisconsin and Saskatchewan, the disease rate is approximately 50 percent today. The Canadian government recently conceded that CWD is unstoppable.
In Minnesota, an unnamed disease has killed 70 percent of the moose herd over the past three years. The symptoms sound like Chronic Wasting disease, but authorities haven’t named a cause. They could be reluctant to kill their hunting economy with such an announcement. Similar outbreaks in deer and elk also have been reported in North Carolina, Nebraska and New Mexico recently.
CWD Spreading Through Sewage Sludge
To show the similarity between CWD and mad cow disease, researchers injected healthy deer with prions from infected cattle. The deer contracted prion disease with symptoms and progression identical to the disease characteristics witnessed and expected in deer with prion disease. In other words, prions cause prion disease in all species. The species barrier to disease transmission is a myth. Calling these diseases different names in deer, cattle and humans is masking the prion problem.
CWD can be highly transmissible within deer, elk and moose populations. The mode of transmission is not fully understood, but evidence supports the fact that the disease is spread through animal-to-animal contact and by exposure to prions in contaminated soil, feed and water. We have theories about causation, but for now, let’s focus on hunter education.
CWD and Hunters’ Safety
Several so-called experts are quick to imply that it’s safe to eat deer, elk and moose that have prion disease. They don’t encourage it, but they are recklessly discounting the risks. The party line is that there is no proof of a person contracting prion disease through an infected game animal. I turn the logic around and ask them for proof that it’s safe. There is no such evidence. Why is it safe to handle the carcass of a deer with prion disease, but not a cow that had the same diagnosis upon death?
People have definitely died from eating infected beef tissue. Deadly prions have been found in the muscle tissue of deer. If the prion in a beef burger will kill you, why won’t the prion in a deer burger kill you and your family? It’s time for these state wildlife organizations to guard public health with taxpayer dollars and stop serving as the chamber of commerce.
Hunters should not touch the carcass of an animal in the danger zones and those within buffer zones. Hunters should consult with their state wildlife agencies to identify areas where CWD has been found so far and take appropriate precautions when hunting in such areas. Just because the agencies haven’t reported a case of CWD in a state or zone, doesn’t mean that it’s free of disease. Use common sense when looking at disease maps. The disease is spreading rapidly. Don’t trust anyone but yourself for your decision.
Hunters and others must avoid eating meat from deer and elk that look sick (patchy coat, drooping head and ears) or that test positive for CWD. If the animal looks sick at all, don’t even touch it. Just walk away and let the wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, crows and worms take their course.
Field Dressing Precautions
When field-dressing carcasses, wear gloves, bone-out the meat from the animal as much as possible without sawing through bone. Minimize handling and cutting of the brain and spinal cord tissues. Minimize the amount of blood that contacts you, your vehicle, and your home. All tissue and bodily fluids are infectious, if it has the disease. An animal that looks healthy can still be infectious.
If you remove the horns, be very careful when sawing through the skull. Wear disposable gloves. Wear protective eyewear to prevent blood from splashing in your eyes. Place the head over something disposable to collect the blood and tissue when you saw through the skull (and brain tissue). Wrap the skull area at the base of the rack entirely in plastic as quickly as possible. Don’t let anyone touch the base of the horns. Put your saw in a plastic bag. Put your gloves and the cloth/paper that was placed under the head in a plastic bag and toss it immediately. Don’t let pets or kids touch anything. Don’t get blood on anything that can’t be thrown away.
Quarantine your knife, saw, clothing and anything else that came into contact with flesh, bone or body fluids until you get the test results back. Put these items in a plastic bag. If the animal tests positive for CWD, throw the entire bag away. It’s worse than keeping radioactive material in your house. These items will permanently contaminate your home and the pathogen will spread from there.
Hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose from known CWD-positive areas should have the animal tested for CWD before processing or consuming the meat. The process takes several weeks, which means that when animals test positive, they have already been processed and consumed in most cases. Wisconsin keeps a directory of people who have consumed deer with CWD.
If you hunt in a state that has confirmed cases of CWD (or a state that borders such a state), process the meat yourself. Odds are that every game processing facility has processed at least one animal over the years with CWD. That single animal (and there probably were many) can contaminate every knife, saw, table and other surfaces and equipment permanently. Even if the deer, elk or moose that you shot is healthy, every carcass that is processed in the wake of an infected animal is exposed to prions. It’s impossible to prove a game processing facility as clean and sterile when it comes to prions, so the risk to you and your family is extreme. Plus, in most processing plants, you never know if you are getting back meat from the animal that you brought in or not.
Ask the game processor what they are doing to protect you and others from CWD and prion disease. Record the answer because there is not a good answer unless it’s: “We guarantee that we have never processed an animal with prion disease. We quarantine every carcass off site. Each carcass is wrapped in plastic and sealed before it enters quarantine. Once test results are returned negative, we transfer the carcass and proceed to process it in a way that assures that every customer receives the meat from the animal that they brought in.” Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any facility in North America that handles deer and elk in such a manner.
In the Midwest, many hunters and farmers like to feed the bucks protein meal to make them grow bigger antlers faster. That’s another reason that we have prion disease among deer, elk and moose. The problem is that much of this protein feed is made from sick deer and livestock. The same deadly protein meal has often been fed to captive deer to make them grow bigger, faster, too.
That’s one reason that CWD has ravaged game farms (exposure to sewage from people with brain disease is another reason). In some states, both wild and captive herds have been devastated by prion disease and this protein meal contributed to the problem. So did infectious waste.
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