Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an untreatable neurologic disorder of deer and elk. CWD has been identified in western states and has been present for years. It has only recently been positively identified in Wisconsin. It is a disease of animals and is similar to mad cow disease.
Currently, there is no evidence that people can contract disease from an animal with CWD. In Colorado, officials have been monitoring for any evidence of disease transmission to people and cattle for 16 years. They have found no cases.
Even though there is no known transmission of disease to humans, experts recommend certain precautions. Do not eat deer that are obviously ill. Do not eat the brain, spleen, eyes, tongue, spinal cord, tonsils or other lymph nodes. Wear gloves when field dressing the deer. Do not saw across the spinal cord. Bone your meat. Ask that any processed meat not be mixed with other hunters’ meat.
Since all the available information indicates that eating and handling deer is safe, how can CWD be hazardous to your health? If you think about it, you will realize that you are much, much more likely to be killed or hurt by hitting a deer with your car than by hunting and eating deer. If hunters allow themselves to be scared out of hunting, then the population of deer (which is already above goals) will continue to grow out of control. This will be a problem for the deer because the disease is more easily spread when deer are overcrowded. Also, there will be more deer for you to run into with your car and possibly be seriously injured.
Therefore, in order to reduce the chances of deer related health hazards, you hunters need to get out and hunt.
P. Michael Shattuck