As of 8-19-02 there has been no CWD in Missouri. Iam very concerned today , my family depends on deer meat to get us through the winter months. I have heard that the disease stays with the meat even after its cooked. Is there any other signs that are obvious to see, if the deer is infected, other than sending the head off to be tested?
There is no way to visually inspect the meat to determine if it has CWD. Also, I'm not aware of tests that are available for the meaty portion of an animal. All testing that I'm aware of is done on nervous system tissue (brain, spinal cord).
From what I understand, prion diseases affect the central nervous system. Hence testing methods that focus on brain tissue.
In terms of visual detection, the animal would have to be pretty far gone for you to tell. In advanced cases, the animal will stumble, appear disoriented, or have equilibrium problems.
Since the disease focuses on the central nervous system, I've been told the threat isn't uniform throughout the meat. I've read that burger and sausage pose a higher threat because it's often derived from cuts that lie closer to the CNS (i.e. spine, etc) and have more nervous tissue in them. This also explains how mad cow disease spread by grinding up bones and putting it in animal feed. But I'm no expert on the issue. Can anyone else confirm/deny this?
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 protiens.
[ This Message was edited by: moderator on 2002-11-08 13:36 ]
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...