Deer prions could jump to humans, study says

Currently Chronic Wasting Disease does not infect humans, but . . .

Chronic wasting disease is spreading more and more widely.  Our anti-conservation friends in the Department of Livestock and the various anti-wolf groups worry about brucellosis and dog tapeworms, but here is something that would be truly terrifying. Prions jumped from sheep probably to cows to cause “mad cow disease.”  Then it jumped to humans.  Scientists worry the same could happen to the prions that destroy the brains of deer, elk, and moose and remain in the soil, infectious, for so long it might as well be forever.

Deer prions could jump, study says. Scientists fear chronic wasting disease protein could spawn new human illness. By John Fauber of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)

Cause of spread of “mad elk”, “mad deer” disease found

It’s in their droppings, and the infectious prions never go away!

Really, really bad news about chronic wasting disease.  Study Spells Out Spread of Brain Illness in Animals. By Sandra Blakeslee. New York Times.

“Dr. Aiken said prions tended to bind to clay in soil and to persist indefinitely. When deer graze on infected dirt, prions that are tightly bound to clay will persist for long periods in their intestinal regions. So there is no chance chronic wasting disease will be eradicated, he said. Outside the laboratory, nothing can inactivate prions bound to soil. They are also impervious to radiation.” [emphasis mine]

Update. Here is the link to the abstract in Nature

New Update: Wyoming boosts CWD survey. This season, more state and federal agents will take samples from hunters’ deer and elk. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Protein linked to wasting disease found in elk antler velvet

Consumers of “health supplement” may be at risk, study says-

Protein linked to wasting disease found in elk antler velvet.  Consumers of health supplement may be at risk, study says.  By Hanneke Brooymans. The Edmonton Journal.