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CWD: 'It's Kind of a Genetic Roulette Table'

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota announced Tuesday that it has launched the Chronic Wasting Disease Response, Research and Policy Program.

Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, the director of CIDRAP, said the new program has multiple objectives, but the biggest one is to raise national awareness of what he believes is a real threat to human health.

“We believe it is possible that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with the consumption of CWD-contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” he said. “There is an immediate and critical need for national leadership on addressing CWD, and the CWD Program establishes the University of Minnesota as both the national and international center for CWD response, research, education and policy.”

Osterholm is very familiar with diseases caused by prions, which are abnormally shaped proteins. In the 1980s, he was on the front lines in England when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) was detected in cattle.