Interesting that I find myself going from Hillary Clinton to a drooling, staggering deer disorder, but anyway...
I've been wanting to do a post for a little while on Chronic Wasting Disease. Though, I guess talking about it is kinda like eating your Brussels sprouts - not particularly exciting, but something you really should do.
Of course, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that occurs in deer, elk, and moose. It's believed to be caused by nonliving proteins called prions, which accumulate in lymphatic and nerve tissue and literally create holes in the victim's brain (hence the "sponge" of "spongiform"). Symptoms include weight loss, staggering, shaking, and excessive salivation, ending in death.
The disease first showed up in captivity in Colorado in the 1960s, then in the wild in Rocky Mountain National Park in 1981, and then east of the Mississippi in 2002. And of course, the million dollar question has long been -- is it a health threat to humans?
As the tentative answer remains, 'no,' a number of hunters remain largely unconcerned about CWD. For example, after that spooky 2005 New York incident in which 350 people at a sportsman's dinner ate chili and steak from a deer that tested positive for CWD, health officials set up a hotline for those who had attended the banquet. They expected a ton of calls from worried individuals -- they got two. And just casual conversations with any number of hunters will likely turn up people who think concern about the disease is overblown. I once hunted with a guide, who believed CWD didn't exist at all, that it was a tall tale spun by government conspirators trying to destroy the tradition of hunting in America.
While I'm not exactly fearing for my life, I'd rather be safe than sorry, and take at least some precautions. How careful are you about CWD? Would you knowingly eat meat from a CWD infected animal? Of course, this has a lot to do with the area of the country in which you live, but do you go to great lengths to guard against CWD? Or do you not think about it much? Sure, there's also a high fence hunting component to this discussion (that ugly industry contributes to the disease's spread), but I think that's a whole other topic by itself. -K.H.