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Mad Deer Disease - Do we have it in Mich.?

2120 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Stinger
Anyone heard the reports of a couple hunters out west dieing from what researchers believe to be Mad Deer Disease? I've seen articles in the New York Tims, Field and Stream, etc. I guess they have discovered deer and elk with Cronic Wasting Disease (CWD) which they claim is slowly spreading amoung the herds.

Can't remember what it is called, but don't we have something similar in out elk here that affects their brains and kills them?

I would wonder what would happen to the regs if we were to throw something like this on top of the TB thing?

IF anyone has more info on this, it would be interesting to see what it is.
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I remember reading something about this in Field & Stream or Sports Afield about a year ago, but I can't remember the particulars as to if anyone died or contracted the disease (seems to me that they were trying to establish a link between the two and they hadn't done that yet).
I have heard similar (yet unsubstantiated) reports of people in Kentucky or Tennessee getting similar brain wasting diseases from eating the undercooked brains of tree squirrels.....once again, an unsubstantiated blurb in the newspapers where there was thought to be a link, but it wasn't substantiated.
I sometimes wonder if the press just throws things like this out there to see if it can dredge up more public outcry on a topic, like allar on apples a few years back.
I did read this weekend, however, that a young boy in Wisconsin became infected with the Lysteria bacteria after eating venison. Apparently, the critter had been gut shot. Cook all your meat well. I will go to the hospital library next week and see if I can dig up any more FACTS and post what I find.
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The other thing you might be thinking of is "brain worm", which is a parasite that infects deer (but doesn't affect them), but is deadly on moose, and is one of the reasons they have had trouble increasing the populations of moose in the U.P. I don't know if it affect the elk or not, though.
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There was a big article in USA TODAY, yesterday about it. Seems that it isn't in Michigan, at least our state was not mentioned. It did mention that Elk can be effected by it as well. The article was in the Life section and dated Jan 29.
Mr16gauge probably hit on the brain worm thing.
Low populations of deer was one of reasons for the placing the transplanted moose where they did.(less chance of transmission)

CWD was in Michigan about 15 years ago.
Swift actions by competent people led to a quick demise of the problem. The problem was across the southern half of the state. One person was even charged with purposely trying to spread the disease. I think he was from the Marshall area, not sure. A DVM from my area discovered it on his land.

[This message has been edited by Airoh (edited 01-30-2001).]
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There will be a special on this problem of CWD tonight. the time is eight pm. it will be on of the local stations in Detroit area. I don't know which one.
CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) is a very real and very serious problem affecting elk and mule deer in Colorado and parts of Wyoming.

The disease is thought to have originated in a Colorado research laboratory. It is always fatal and their is no cure; and it is alarmingly similar to the 'madcow' epidemic that occurred in Europe.

There is no proof YET that the disease tranfers to humans, but there are suspect cases of C-J disease found in humans that are believed to be the result of hunters coming into contact with infected game animals.

For more information on CWD, go to www.geocities.com/elkwild and www.macow.org


VEGETARIAN: Indian word meaning 'Bad Hunter'
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In Field and Stream February 2001, there is an article about hunters in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, eating the brains of squirrels. As noted in the issue, they were warned that CDJ (a variant of the mad cow disease)may be present in these little critters. So to all of you out there, don't eat squirrel brains!

Also CDJ stands for: Cretzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
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In the December, 2000, South edition of FIELD AND STREAM, there's an article of an 11 year old Connecticut boy contracting E. Coli from whitetail meat in November, l998. According to Dr. Douglas Dingman of the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station, the deer was gut-shot and took two hours to find, during which time the blood circulating throughout the deer's system spread the bacteria 0157:H7 that leaked from the intestines (the same that can infect hamburger.)

Then, the deer hung for two days in 55-degree weather... which allowed the bacteria to multiply.... Then the boy ate undercooked venison. With antibiotic treatment, the boy recovered.

The same article told of 11 people coming down with E.coli in Oregon that was traced to venison jerky made in a dehydrator. It was stated by a Dr. Bill Keene of the State Health Div. that the bacteria can live even after 10 hours in a 160-degree dehydrator, so he suggests first cooking venison in a liquid marinade until the meat reaches 175-degrees F.

Something to be conscious of FOR SURE.. ~ m ~

[This message has been edited by Liv4Huntin' (edited 01-31-2001).]
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When you read articles like this months Field & Stream on the deer and squirrels, coupled with the mad cow disease, it tends to scare the hell out of you.
It sounds like a terrible way to die. A friend says he just doesn't bother reading or listening to such stories.
Michigan Farm Bureau Press Release:

Jill Haake, Manager of Media Support Services 800-292-2680, ext. 6585
Dennis Rudat, Dir. of Information and Public Relations 800-292-2680, ext. 6586


While no case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has ever been discovered in the United States, media interest in this issue has grown due to the situation in Europe. In the event you're planning to cover this issue, Michigan Farm Bureau has compiled background information on BSE and consolidated a number of key contacts who are knowledgeable on the issue.

What is BSE?

BSE, or "Mad Cow Disease," was first discovered in Great Britain in 1985. It is from a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. BSE is adegenerative disease of the central nervous system of cattle. The disease agent has been found in the brain, spinal cord and retina tissue of infectedanimals. It has not been found in muscle tissue or milk. Feeding ruminant derived protein, such as meat and bone meal, to susceptible animals can spread BSE.

What have we done to prevent BSE in this country?

While BSE is a growing concern in Europe, no case has ever been found in the United States. Proactive measures taken by USDA, in concert with industry, since 1989 have helped prevent the entry of the disease into the United States.

Specific steps taken include:

A ban on the importation of live animals and animal products from countries that have BSE. This prevents the possible introduction of the disease.
A ban on the feeding of mammalian derived protein to ruminants. This prevents the spread of the disease if a case ever did occur.
The U.S. has had an on-going monitoring and surveillance program in operation since 1990. A random sampling of livestock has been conducted since May 10, 1990. Samples from cattle submitted to public health laboratories for neurological reasons have also been evaluated. As of December 31, 2000 a total of 11,954 samples have been examined for BSE with no evidence of the condition found.

A Final Note

Just for clarification, the quarantine case in Texas which has prompted additional media interest on BSE is not a disease investigation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the reported violation of the ban on the feeding of mammalian protein to ruminants. FDA is currently testing the feed for the presence of animal protein.

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The way I understand it, it takes several years from the time you are infected before you show the symptoms of Mad Cow Disease!

Cliff Cushard
Cushard's Kennel
Wasting disease hits state's deer

By Michael Booth and Theo Stein
Denver Post Staff Writers

Feb. 4, 2001 - A fatal brain-wasting disease has animals
staggering on four hooves, glassyeyed and slobbering.

Government doctors conduct intensive
research, acknowledging that what they
don't know about the mysterious disease
exceeds what they do know.

National media suggest that a horrific
human health threat is being soft-pedaled
by medical and wildlife authorities, leaving
an edgy public unsure how to react to
each new rumor.

Sound familiar? But it's not a tale from
far-off Europe, where "mad cow disease"
has shattered the beef industry and
paralyzed the continent with fear.

It's the current state of affairs
concerning a "mad deer disease" that has
struck wild deer and ranched elk in
certain parts of the Rocky Mountains,
leaving health officials scrambling to
assess the possible threat to humans.

For now, Rocky Mountain veterinarians,
wildlife experts and public health officials
stress that there has never been a
confirmed case of humans becoming sick
from the deer illness, which is called
chronic wasting disease. And they add
that all of the research on the deer
disease suggests the risk to humans is
exceedingly low, even as inaccurate
stories of human cases mistakenly linked
to consumption of allegedly infected
venison are recycled in the media.

"The only thing that seems to be
spreading rapidly is misinformation in the
popular media," said Mike Miller, a wildlife
veterinarian with the Colorado Division of
Wildlife. "And that should certainly be a
cause for concern."

Chronic wasting disease is one member of
a family of always-fatal diseases called
transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies, which essentially turn
a victim's brain to mush. In cows, the
variety is called bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
The human form is Creutzfeldt-Jakob
Disease, or CJD, which strikes the elderly
as a spontaneous mutation in about one
in a million adults.

Little is known about the infectious agent
that causes both chronic wasting and
mad cow disease. What is known is that
common proteins called prions change to
a renegade, lethal form. But researchers
are struggling to understand how those
bad prions convert others to cause the
virulent diseases.

"The main problem with this issue is that for several of the most
important questions, we don't have any scientific-based answers,"
said John Pape, an epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment.

Chronic wasting disease was first discovered at Colorado State
University in 1977, but researchers think it existed in wild
populations for at least 40 years. It is now focussed in a
15,000-square-mile area of northeast Colorado, southeast
Wyoming, and a small portion of the Nebraska panhandle. A parallel
epidemic is working through captive elk on ranches in South
Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and several Canadian provinces. Last
week, Oklahoma officials announced they would slaughter 140
quarantined elk, after five members of a herd died of CWD. The
herd came from Montana.

Researchers don't yet know how deer or elk pass it to each other.
They do know, however, that the leap from deer or elk to a human
illness is a long and difficult one.

First of all, the rogue prions concentrate in brain tissue and spinal
cords, not in the cuts of meat most humans consume, said Dr. Ken
Tyler, a professor of neurology at the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center. In fact, tests have never identified the infectious
prion in muscle tissue.

Moreover, eating the tainted material further cuts the chances of
transmission, because the digestive system destroys many
diseases. Finally, the disease has to cross the species barrier, from
beef or venison to humans.

"It is not impossible," Tyler said, citing the 100-odd cases of mad
cow disease now having spread to humans in Britain. "But it is not
a very efficient spreader."

While scientists are working hard to avoid the kind of mass herd
slaughter and consumer panic sweeping Europe as a result of mad
cow disease, they also say the threat of chronic wasting disease
among deer and elk has to be put in the context of other risks to
human health.

"Hunters should quit smoking first, and then get their deer heads
tested," Tyler said. "If I had a choice in patients of a hunter who
stops eating venison and a hunter who promises to quit smoking
and wear his seat belt, I'd rather have the second one." A relief for
the wary researchers is that so far chronic wasting is behaving
very differently from Europe's mad cow disease.

In England, the practice of feeding cows protein supplements made
from rendered animals allowed the mad cow agent to infect entire
beef herds. Continued recycling of the infected tissue - a kind of
forced cow cannibalism - magnified the problem, leading to the
slaughter of hundreds of thousands of suspect cattle in England in
the early '90s before any human crossover was identified. Despite
the tough measures, researchers still had to wait to see whether
the disease would cross into humans who had eaten infected beef.

The waiting ended in 1996, when British officials said they had
found a new variant of CreutzfeldtJakob Disease caused by beef.

As soon as the first cases appeared in Europe, U.S. health officials
started worrying, too. While U.S. laws prevent using rendered
animal protein in animal feed, an untold number of Americans had
traveled overseas and might have consumed the same beef. So
far, no cases of the mad cow variant have been found in either
humans or cattle in the United States.

Last year, attention shifted as the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention investigated the deaths of three U.S. citizens, far
younger than the usual victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, who either
hunted or ate venison regularly. After extensive post-mortems, all
of the patients were shown to have died of the common form of
the disease, not the new variant caused by food, said Dr. Ermias
Belay of the CDC in Atlanta.

When mad cow disease crossed over, British health officials
identified several traits in the human victims: Their youth, their
symptoms and the physical effect on their brains all differed from
the long-known, spontaneous form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob.

But in the three U.S. deaths the CDC has investigated, there was
no evidence that the individuals died of anything other than the
spontaneous common form. In fact, the most compelling
arguments, Belay said, point away from chronic wasting disease.

"The most significant evidence to us is the cases didn't even have
the opportunity to be exposed to venison potentially contaminated
with CWD," said Belay. "None of them consumed deer or elk meat
from the known endemic areas in Colorado and Wyoming."

Belay said researchers then turned their attention to areas where
victims had obtained deer. In collaboration with federal agriculture
officials, the center sampled tissue from 1,000 deer and elk
carcasses, and none tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Colorado and Wyoming have issued reasonable and safe guidelines
for hunters in their area, Belay said. If people want to protect
themselves further, they can avoid consumption of deer brains and
spinal cord, no matter where the animals are harvested.

A key for researchers is their assumption that some people have
already eaten meat tainted with chronic wasting disease, yet no
crossover cases have been proven.

"No one can tell you that will never happen," he said. "But is it
causing disease in humans right now? No, it is not. Every test we
have done suggests it is not transmitted to humans."

In 1996, the CDC established the National Prion Disease Pathology
Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in
Cleveland to look for cases. In Colorado, state epidemiologist Pape
also monitors traditional CreutzfeldtJakob cases, looking for

If any victims under age 55 are reported, the federal center follows
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