CWD, food safety tests not same, DNR says

October 24, 2002 Wisconsin State Journal by Ron Seely

Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources warn hunters who take to the woods today that no tests for chronic wasting disease are considered food safety tests.

"There is a common misconception that a CWD test is a food safety test," said DNR wildlife veterinarian Julie Langenberg. Existing CWD tests tell only whether the deformed protein that causes the disease was in the specific tissue tested at the time the test was conducted. It's possible, she said, that the proteins, called prions, could be present in an animal below the level detectable by whatever test is used. A negative test, she added, may provide a false sense of security.

A better alternative, the DNR is advising, would be for hunters to put their deer in the freezer and await the results of surveillance testing that will be conducted by the agency. The DNR hopes to test as many as 50,000 deer, and those results should tell a hunter with 99 percent accuracy whether the disease is in their local deer population, even if only one percent of the herd is infected.

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