A University of Wisconsin-Madison veterinarian has advised hunters to get their harvested deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease.
Currently, Portage County has positive cases of CWD for both wild and captive habitats, increasing the need for hunters to be aware of the disease.
While it is still in the peer-review process, a Canadian abstract study found that some primates have been able to contract CWD through raw meat consumption.
According to Keith Poulsen, an outreach and diagnostic case coordinator for the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, this is the first case of oral consumption to show development of the disease outside of mammals directly related to deer.
Poulsen, in a recent broadcast with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” hosted by Veronica Rueckert, said, “Anytime you have an infection, whether its virus, bacterium or prion, we need to worry about how that does affect the rest of the ecosystem.”
“Because of the deer hunting population, sport in Wisconsin is really a part of our culture and part of the Wisconsin economy. When we have new findings like this, we want to make sure we get out ahead of it,” said Poulsen.
While it remains unclear whether the disease could be contracted by humans, the Department of Natural Resources has a response plan to reduce risk and manage the problem. The plan emphasizes the restricted movement of deer carcasses to reduce the spread of potentially infectious tissues to other counties or states. Other precautions include enhanced fencing, maintaining testing with farms, and recommendations for annual deer quotas.
If a deer is electronically registered, hunters have the option of getting their deer tested for CWD for free, provided by the Wisconsin DNR at select locations.
Poulsen later states in the broadcast, “When you have something new like this you need to repeat it, make sure that it’s valid, and then continue to investigate.”