Wisconsin Deaths May Be Linked
to Mad Deer Epidemic

Health - Reuters
CDC: Wisconsin Deaths May Be Linked to Deer Disease
Wed Jul 31, 6:01 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The federal Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention ( news - web sites) (CDC) says it is helping the Wisconsin health
department determine if three hunting partners who died in the 1990s of rare
brain disorders may have contracted the disease from the deer they ate.

If so, "this would be the first time we've actually seen where this disease
progressed from animals into humans," said CDC spokesman Llelwyn Grant.

But, said Grant, "right now, we're really at the preliminary stages."

Since 1997, the CDC has investigated three unusual cases of
Creuztfeldt-Jakob disease, a brain-destroying illness similar to mad cow
disease in cattle and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

The two men and one woman, all under age 30, had eaten deer and elk, but the
meat did not come from areas where chronic wasting disease was prevalent.
After testing their brain tissue, the CDC decided that the brain-destroying
disease in those people had not come from eating contaminated meat.

Now, the Wisconsin Division of Health has asked the CDC to review autopsy
results for the three hunters who died there--James Botts, Wayne Waterhouse,
and Roger Marten.

Both Waterhouse and Marten died in 1993, and Botts in 1999. All ate wild
game, and died of disorders that destroyed their brains: Marten died of
Pick's disease, and Waterhouse and Botts, with a diagnosis of
Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD) disease, a fatal brain ailment that strikes only one
in a million Americans.

Federal officials have been monitoring incidence of human brain diseases,
with an eye on determining if mad cow disease, which jumped into humans in
the UK and elsewhere in the world, has done the same in the US.

So far, only one human in the US has been diagnosed with variant CJD, the
form linked to mad cow disease, and that was a woman who had emigrated from

There have been no cases of mad cow disease in US cattle.

More recently, there has been concern that the mad cow-like disease in elk
and deer, called chronic wasting disease, might spread into humans. That
condition has been detected in wild deer and elk in Colorado, Wyoming,
Nebraska, Kansas, and is being found in more animals elsewhere in the
Midwest, including in Wisconsin, where it may have been undetected for

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