Chronic Wasting Disease is a no laughing matter. This is majorly affecting the deer family which includes elk and caribou. Chronic Wasting Disease was first discovered in Colorado back in 1970. It was not so common at that time. It’s similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as “mad cow disease”. It is always fatal and progressive. Later it was common on the Canadian border but now it is spreading in Quebec with CWS head on.
“If it does spread here, it’s something that’s fairly hard to remove from the ecosystem, so it’s very concerning,” Keith Fowler of the Quality Deer Management Association told the CBC in October.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says four more cases have been identified since the first-ever case was found in early September. Since then, the discovery of CWD led to a huge cull of deer in Quebec. It has many worried as it isn’t the easiest thing to get rid of.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry advisor Chris Heydon says CWD has had a dramatic effect on some regions of the United States.
“It [CWD] has been shown to cause significant population effects in states and provinces where it has been widespread in wild deer populations,” he said. “It would have a significant affect both on populations and Ontario’s strong hunting culture, which is obviously of great concern.”
At the meeting in town hall of Grenville, Quebec local residents criticized the Canadian Food inspection agency for what they felt was a slow response to the burgeoning crisis.
Another big question which arises regarding this disease is that, it can affect humans or not and at the meeting Dr. El Mehdi Haddou, Veterinary Officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said there is “no risk” of CWD being transferred to humans. But a study that came to attention at last year’s North American Deer Summit in Texas casts some doubt on that assertion.
“Results of CWD laboratory challenges of non-human primates are mixed,” the report said. “CWD transferred readily to squirrel monkeys orally (92 percent), but macaques, which are genetically closer to humans than squirrel monkeys, have demonstrated significant resistance, even to direct intracerebral injection. It should be noted, however, that recently macaques were shown to be susceptible to scrapie, but only after an extended, silent incubation of ten years.”
“Once the first human is thought to have contracted CWD, we could see fallout in the ag market because of food safety concerns. This is becoming a very serious situation. I do not see a way to stop the spread. The U.S. government has bought deer farms contaminated by CWD and are considered contaminated super sites.”
Tim Donges, a branch president with the Quality Deer Management Association, says a human contraction would escalate the issue severely.