Health Advisory Issued For Deer, Elk, Moose, Due To Wasting Disease

American Continent, (TFC)— Researchers are now urging extreme caution for those considering eating venison, elk, or moose. A degenerative disease once confined to the animals now may be capable of jumping to humans. The news adds another layer of environmental uncertainty in a time ripe with havoc from a dynamic planet.

Chronic Wasting Disease is an incurable brain disorder which eventually kills the afflicted. Think mad cow disease but for deer, elk, caribou, and other cervid mammals. First discovered in the 60s, CWD has since spread to 24 states. EnviorNews sourced an April 26th health advisory document prepared by Canadian disease and health hazard agencies. During a series of ongoing studies, CWD now shows a potential to jump to humans that it hadn’t before demonstrated.

In the source document, researchers noted that there hasn’t yet been “any direct evidence that CWD has infected humans.” However, “the potential that CWD could be transmitted to humans cannot be excluded”. Under “specific experimental conditions”, EnviorNews reports, the disease could infect humans through the consumption of infected muscle. Those experiments involved Crab Eating Macaques, the closest primate to humans that can be used in research.

The disease also shows a potential to jump to mice, voles, and even house cats. “The shock waves”, said Alliance for Public Wildlife director and former forester Darrel Rowledge, “are still reverberating through the scientific community.” For years, although it was suspected CWD could cross the “species-barrier”, it couldn’t be confirmed. Now that the disease has shown a dangerous potential, advisories are being issued before the impending hunting season.

Although some may be skeptical of the findings, researchers are urging onlookers to recall history. When mad cow disease was first admitted to having infected humans, lab animals showed similar signs. Like CWD, mad cow disease is a prion illness which wastes away the brain and body. Macaques used for that research–like today’s experiments–showed signs of the disease in the spinal region.

What shocks scientists today is how quickly monkeys infected with CWD showed signs of disease and died. One monkey wasted away to a third of it’s original body weight inside six months. Normally, prion diseases can hide symptoms for years after the original infection. One of the earliest onsets of CWD for the lab was four and a half years. Though that might seem like a long time to you, “it should’ve taken longer”, said researcher Stephanie Czub.

 

“Without immediate action, we are heading for worse cases outcomes that include severe population impacts, extinctions, crashing economies, and, although unlikely, potential transfers of CWD to people.”– 2017 Comprehensive analysis

 

The same analysis notes how “sobering” the “combination of threats” is. Even infected animals that die isolated in some forest pose a bio-contamination hazard to other lifeforms. Clay-based soils for example, the analysis states, jumps the chances of infection post-mortem by over 600%. “Facilities infected with CWD have resisted all efforts at removing the infective agent”, the analysis notes. In Canada, officials stated that even when healthy animals were restocked in low-risk areas eventually showed an infection rate of 50%. “Left unchecked”, the analysis reads, “the prospects for wildlife are bleak.”

Image Source: Jamie McCaffrey, Flickr, Creative Commons
One relieved deer.
You’d be smiling too, if you just realized it was a camera being pointed at you and not a hunter with a gun.

Clearly, the issue of CWD spread across the North American continent is a pressing issue. It’s unsettling in its timing, just as the environment appears to be becoming unstable. In America alone, each shore line is affected by a different environmental crisis. Hurricanes upon hurricanes in the south, wild fires towards the west, storms to the east, and now disease on the inner-mainland. Some local economies depend on wild game for economic and basic food reasons. In the south, destroyed by hurricanes, those who know how to hunt are now likely to rather than loot flooded super markets.

There is hope, of course, but it all depends on cohesive research, funding, and timely responses. Although Canada is one story, an America under Trump is wholly different. The Trump Administration has shown close to no interest in enforcing, protecting, or even supporting environmental or climate initiatives. The Environmental Protection Agency has been gutted, stripped of funding, and infiltrated by its former corporate enemies.

At every turn, the administration has opted to deny or even pressure cover ups of environmental science. It’s distorted facts and pinned the public against itself on a colorful array of fronts. Developing an effective government response to the crisis among deer, elk, and other cervid populations will be difficult. Even if it jumps to humans.