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Plan to EAT that deer you caught? New research suggests CWD could spread to humans more easily than thought

The news out of the University of Calgary comes as the spread of CWD is now tracked to New Meadows.
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 16, 2023

BOISE — You've shot a deer and frozen the meat. But four to six weeks later, the test you sent in comes back positive for CWD.

You could toss it... or eat it.

Hunters like Paul Pinkerton thinks he knows what most people will do. "Yeah, I'm sure there's going to be plenty of people who say ill take a chance," he says.

Pinkerton has been hunting in Idaho since he was 5. He says CWD has been on the east coast for decades and no one has caught it. "I think if it was going to happen it would have happened already on that side of the country," he explains.

Add to that no human has ever contracted the disease and you can understand the skepticism.

But new research from the university of Calgary in Canada may change that.

And it starts with little mice infused with human DNA. "We infected them with CWD prions," says researcher Sabine Gilch, Professor of Veterinary Science at the University of Calgary. "Meaning basically mashed up brain from a CWD infected deer that was injected directly into the brains of those mice."

What they found was the humanized mice eventually -- over years -- became infected with CWD and could spread it through their feces.

"This is very concerning," explains Gilch. "because if it were to happen in humans that could lead to human to human transmission of CWD."

CWD is an always fatal disease that attacks the nervous system and brain of deer and elk.

What researchers learned from the mice is that any movement cross species would happen slowly.

"If what we saw in the mice if that translates into humans that it might be hard to detect it might be hard to diagnose," says Gilch. And she explains that the confusion in part could come from the fact that CWD could easily be confused for dementia.
That's why a "so-far elusive" test for live subjects would be key.

"Yeah it would be very important for CWD," says Gilch. "It would be nice to have a field test that hunters could use." Until then, testing your deer and elk remain the key's to detection.

Remember, the CDC says it's best to play it safe and not eat CWD contaminated meat.