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The US Is Losing the War against Mad Deer Disease

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Mad Cow Disease Page.

It has been over ten years since Wisconsin endured a kind of deer holocaust. The terminal deer and elk disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD), descended upon its deer population with such vengeance officials declared "CWD eradication" zones in which fauns and does would be killed before bucks. Thousands of deer carcasses were stored in refrigerated trucks in La Crosse while their severed heads were tested for CWD. If the carcasses were disease-free they were safe to eat (any takers?); if not, they were too dangerous to even put in a landfill. Why? Because "prions" (which also cause mad cow disease, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) are not inactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde, or radiation. They remain in the soil indefinitely.

Hunters in Wisconsin and other states were warned to wear surgical gloves when cutting up deer and to avoid exposing open cuts or sores on their hands.  One hunter wrote the local paper that after his buck tested positive for CWD he was worried about the blood on his steering wheel and hunting clothes which his wife was exposed to. There were also cross-contamination risks since deer processors do not usually sterilize their equipment after each deer. Food pantries in Wisconsin and their customers were warned about the risks and it became difficult to donate. ("If this meat is so safe why don't you eat it?" the poor may have been thinking.)

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials in Wisconsin and other states assured the public that deer meat was safe, even if it harbored CWD, as long as they avoided eating a deer's brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes-the parts also implicated in mad cow disease.  But scientific articles suggested most of the animal contained prions including its kidneys, pancreas, liver, muscle, blood, fat and saliva, antler velvet and birthing material.