Saturday, March 9, 2024

Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer: About a New Research Effort

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Wildlife, Nature, Sustainability, Science & Society

Ed Hessler

I found this to be a frightening headline on two accounts. The headline is: "If deer disease jumped to humans we wouldn't be ready", StarTribune, Science & Health, February 18, 2024 by Jim Robbins of KFF Health News. While behind a subscription paywall it is on the KFF Health News website (see below).  

It is the combination of the possibility of chronic wasting disease (CWD) jumping to humans and our unpreparedness for it that is downright scary.

Here are a few lines about what you will find in the essay.

--In 2023 68 different global experts on CWD formed to "look at what are the challenges ahead..." said Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.

--An Osterholm quote, "'The bottom-line message is we are quite unprepared. .... There are no contingency plans for what to do or how to follow up."' Robbins notes that the expert team "is planning for a potential outbreak."

--There are no known human cases.

-- Steve Rinella of Meateater is asked whether hunters worry about it and why/why not.

--The first occurrence of CWD is discussed and its subsequent spread.

--CWD is sometimes nicknamed "zombie disease."
--Effects of the disease on deer brains, symptoms and other details about prions are well covered.

--Osterholm's group just received a $1.5 million dollar grant.

--There is no question that many infected animals are consumed annually.

--Tests for detecting the disease and limitations are discussed.  A rapid field test is badly needed.
Here are the most recent data for the 2023 deer season harvest results and CWD management findings from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (43 hunter-harvested deer, 90% of which were from the southeast).

--University of Minnesota Peter Larsen, College of Veterinary Medicine, co-directs the Minnesota Center for Prion Research and Outreach discusses the ambition of the center.

--Doug Wilson tribal biologist for the White Earth nation told Robbins tribes must become engaged and why. generations.'' 


KFF Health News article which was published in the StarTribune.

Brian Wakeling (best I could do; scroll down Wildlife Division)

About Peter Larsen, UMN.

Additional resource to the story in the StarTribune.

About Michael Osterholm, Director Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota.The link is to the University of Minnesota website on CWD where you can sign up for several newsletters, among them, one on CWD.
Some data from Colorado on deer kill and number infected are discussed in the Robbins report. Here are the most recent data for the 2023 deer season harvest results and CWD management findings from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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