My understanding is that it cannot spread to humans or even to cattle through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with infected meat.
That being said, the Colorado DOW did make public testing widely available last fall for a fee. I had my cow head tested, my Dad had his cow head checked too. CWD was found in the unit we hunt late last year too.
They do not have any proof that CWD can be transmitted to humans. That is a very different thing than saying that it CANNOT be transmitted to humans. The truth is, no one knows for sure.
Personally, I don't want to be the one to give them the proof they seek, since CJD (the human form) is always fatal. Always!
As such, if I get an elk in 2003 (didn't get one in 2002) I'll have it tested. If it comes back positive I will not eat it. That's my choice. Your choice, of course, is up to you (and isn't that what's great about America?).
One of the important items to note on the page above is that scrappies in sheep is also a prion caused disease. People often jump to mad-cow disease as "possible evidence" that CWD could make a cervid (the deer family) to human leap. However people have been in close contact with sheep and consumed mutton for centuries, with no known cases of sheep to human contraction.
Specifically the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the "the risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all", further noting that "it is extremely unlikely that CWD would be a food borne hazard.". So according to the CDC the chance of getting CWD is rare to non-existent and if you do contract CJD (the extremely rare human form of wasting disease, which I have heard occurs in the human population at rates of 1 in 1 million) it would be very unlikely that you contracted the disease by eating infected meat.
Yes the animal does have to be in the advanced stages of CWD to be visually detectable. Although you might not know what the problem is, just that the elk or deer is sick. However once harvested and butchered there really is no visual test that I'm aware of to determine whether or not the meat contains a prion (the protien that causes CWD).
The prion does tend to aggregate most in CNS tissue; however it does collect or form in other tissues as well. Fortunately last year there was a live test developed for CWD that works off tonsil tissue. To read more visit this page:
I don't mean to mislead anyone that reads this post. Nobody really knows why people contract CJD in the first place.
Prion caused diseases require much more research to figure out how they propagate and also how they damage their host. There is even a minority faction in the scientific community that believes that prions simply do not exist (as a self-replicating entity), that there is actually a viral or bacterial component that is producing the harmful prion proteins.
Thanks for the info guys. I'm usually a person who gets all the facts before making a decision but I think I'll jump on the band wagon here and have all my animals tested. If they come up positive I'll pass on eating it even though "they" don't "think" it can be spread to humans.
I'm with you rather_be_huntin, even if they prove CWD can't be passed on to humans from eating the meat, I will NOT eat it if by chance ours should ever come up positive.
We had all our meat tested this year and of course it came up negative, however I wasn't too encouraged that the testing was that accurate, since the CO DOW stated on their website (where you checked on the status of your test) that they only had a 90% accuracy rate and do NOT guarantee that the meat is indeed CWD free. You can read their statement here: http://wildlife.state.co.us/cwd/dnr_form.cfm
So, I would like to see testing developed that has a higher rate of accuracy & reliability.
We all take every precaution when we are hunting and harvesting our animal. Well, what about after the animal is down? Do we know what has happened to that animal over it's lifetime? The following is an example of why we should be careful when we cut.
2 years ago, my father shot a nice 8 point on opening morning of the rifle season in Vermont. It was a beautiful, 2 1/2 year old deer, looked really healthy and moved normally. When my father went to skin it for...