Venison, Elk no longer safe for human consumption?

If you are in North America and thinking about hunting...

HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat — Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Alberta, Canada — Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

Chronic wasting disease is an incurable, inevitably fatal illness that can affect all cervids: deer, elk, moose and caribou. It is one of several prion diseases (pronounced pree-on), of which the most well-known is mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies six known animal prion diseases and five that affect humans. The most common prion illness in people is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

This, from a wikipedia article on prions:

In 2015, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that plants can be a vector for prions. When researchers fed hamsters grass that grew on ground where a deer that died with chronic wasting disease (CWD) was buried, the hamsters became ill with CWD, suggesting that prions can bind to plants, which then take them up into the leaf and stem structure, where they can be eaten by herbivores, thus completing the cycle. It is thus possible that there is a progressively accumulating number of prions in the environment.[67][68]

Magpie's picture

Thanks for the interesting news article, Sophie! The CWD issue has been on my mind from time-to-time. If it is possible for it to be transmitted to humans, that's pretty concerning, given the number already exposed. Prions are being implicated in a number of diseases now, with diabetes being one of the more recent (original paper). Prions in the pancreas can apparently cause healthy individuals to develop diabetes, and this relatively new research has other scientists wondering if this is the mechanism for familial type-II diabetes in non-obese people. It is also of note that some of the macaques used in the study in the original post as well as in other studies of CJD have developed diabetes prior to showing symptoms of mental decline.