Q&A on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a prion disease of elk and deer, presents a disturbing challenge in combatting prion disease. CWD is highly contagious among cervids, spreading from animal to animal through environmental contamination, including soil and plants, and has spread from 2 to 22 states since 2000.

Below is a map of the Distribution of Chronic Wasting Disease in North America (National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, Updated May 2017)

Can CWD spread to humans?

It is not yet known. However, an ongoing study points to the fact that macaques (primates that are genetically close to humans) acquired CWD through oral consumption of infected deer meat. This opens the question of whether humans can acquire CWD from eating deer meat. And if so, how will that disease appear in human brain tissue? The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, is studying this and collaborating with researchers to learn more.

This is a video from Day 3 of Prion 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Vtt1kAVDhDQ

You might find these articles to be helpful in your research on Chronic Wasting Disease:

  1. 7/14/17 National prion center could lose funding just as concern about CWD jumping to humans rises, John Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  2. 7/9/17 Can chronic wasting disease jump from deer to humans? Concerns keep rising, John Fauber and Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  3. 6/26/17 Fire May Be the Only Remedy for a Plague Killing Deer and Elk, Carl Zimmer, New York Times