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Researchers concerned about CWD spread to humans

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (FOX 47) – Researchers at the University of Minnesota are worried that deadly Chronic Wasting Disease might jump from deer to humans. They’re taking action now to prevent that from happening.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a deadly neurological disease that has been popping up in wild whitetail deer and elk. There are 27 positive cases since July 1st in southeast Minnesota, according to the Minnesota DNR website.

Concerned researchers are wary of history repeating itself. Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of The Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy at the University of Minnesota says change needs to happen before it is to late,”What we don’t want to happen is ten years from now find out that yup for the last ten years this prion has been jumping to humans from eating contaminated venison.”

It is not only the the transmission of CWD to humans that have scientists on alert, “Imagine if this did get transmitted to cows and the field whether dairy or not this would have an incredible impact on our meat industry right here in Minnesota and throughout the country,” says Dr. Osterholm.

According to Dr. Osterholm, one way to control CWD is to limit the transportation of deer.

“Right now finding these trophy deer that are being moved from one state to another to put into game farms is a huge challenge, thats how this prion is moving.” Another way to limit the spread of the disease is making sure hunters have information that could help them identify which animal is infected says Osterholm.

This is where the University of Minnesota’s Chronic Wasting Disease program comes into play.

“You have to go all over the internet or any number of different places just to find information our job will be to make it a one stop shop kind of experience,” says Dr. Osterholm.

The program was announced Tuesday, March 19th and Dr. Osterholm says things are under way as they start to put together a task force with experts on CWD from across North America.


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