Not saying you should, but we wouldn't...
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. It is caused by prions, which are mis-folded proteins that can damage the brain and nervous system. CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.
There is no evidence that CWD can infect humans. However, as a precaution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people avoid eating meat from animals that are known to be infected with CWD.
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Here are some reasons why you should not eat deer infected with CWD:
- CWD is a fatal disease. There is no cure or treatment for CWD. Once an animal is infected, it will die.
- CWD can be transmitted to other deer, elk, and moose. CWD can spread through contact with saliva, feces, urine, and blood from infected animals. It can also spread through contact with the carcass of an infected animal.
- CWD can contaminate the environment. CWD prions can persist in the environment for many years. This means that once an area is contaminated with CWD, it can be difficult to eradicate the disease.
If you are hunting in an area where CWD is present, it is important to take steps to minimize your risk of exposure. Here are some tips:
- Do not shoot, handle, or eat meat from deer and elk that look sick or are acting strangely.
- Wear gloves when field dressing a deer or elk.
- Avoid contact with the animal's brain and spinal cord.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the animal.
- Have your deer or elk tested for CWD before eating it.
If you have a deer or elk that tests positive for CWD, it is important to dispose of the carcass properly. You should not bury the carcass, as this can contaminate the environment. You should contact your local wildlife authorities for instructions on how to dispose of the carcass safely.
Why You Can Eat Deer Infected with CWD
While the CDC recommends that people avoid eating meat from animals that are known to be infected with CWD, there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans. Some experts believe that the risk of infection is so low that it is not worth taking any precautions.
If you choose to eat meat from a deer that is infected with CWD, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of exposure:
- Avoid eating the brain and spinal cord of the deer. CWD prions are concentrated in these tissues.
- Cook the meat thoroughly before eating it. Prions are killed by high heat.
- Do not eat meat from a deer that looks sick or is acting strangely.
Just to reiterate, CWD prions can persist in the environment for many years. This means that even if you are hunting in an area where CWD is not present, there is still a chance of exposure if the area has been contaminated in the past.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to eat meat from a deer that is infected with CWD is a personal one. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits before making a decision. We aren't saying you should or you shouldn't. We're just saying we would not.