Chronic Wasting Disease may soon spread to humans, warns CDC
22 February, 2019, 22:30
Scientists can't say for sure whether it will make the jump to infect humans, but if infected flesh continues to be consumed, the likelihood of it increases. However, it is important to note that infected animals may appear perfectly healthy because symptoms usually don't appear for months or even years. Common methods through which it is spread are bodily fluids and contaminated food or water.
"It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead", said Michael Osterholm. However, recent studies revealed that chronic wasting disease could pass to primates and other animals, meaning that without any precaution measures it might soon affect humans, too. Once introduced to an area, this disease can spread quickly among animals.
More than 20 states across the United States have already reported cases of a brain-wasting animal disease that now has no vaccine or treatment.
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CWD is a fatal neurologic disease that is caused by prions, misfolded proteins that can cause serious damage to brain tissue.
To date, no cases of CWD have been reported in humans.
Where have cases of CWD been reported?
"Nevertheless, these experimental studies raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposures to CWD", according to the CDC.
One study, which began in 2009, has shown that macaques, a type of monkey that is genetically homologous to humans, contracted CWD after being fed meat from infected deer and elk. "It's possible the number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events". It advises people not to shoot, handle or eat meat from deer that look sick, act strangely or are found dead. More than two-thirds said they've eaten venison or elk meat. The CDC also "recommends that hunters strongly consider having those animals tested before eating the meat".
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