October 11, 2017 – Overland Park, KS – Long thought to be non-transferable to humans, meat from deer contaminated with chronic wasting disease (CWD) may be more dangerous than originally thought. In a summer 2017 report by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding the ongoing CWD study of 18 macaque monkeys, three of five that were fed infected white tail deer meat developed CWD over a three-year period. Two monkeys that had infected matter exposed to their brains also developed CWD.
“The ‘supposed’ resistance of macaques was about the only prop remaining in the complacency wall (macaques’ genetics are closer to ours than squirrel monkeys, which also can contract CWD), but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Darrel Rowledge, director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife, in an interview with Josh Honeycutt of Realtree’s Brow Tines and Backstrap blog. Rowledge was one of those who presented on CWD at the 2017 Deer Summit in Texas. “The implications to markets are enormous, and governments here may have finally begun to take notice.”
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals and results in death 100% of the time. It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). CWD is a sister disease to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE — the infamous “mad cow disease” that killed 229 people in the United Kingdom. Estimates show 7,000 to 15,000 CWD-infected animals are being consumed by humans every year and these sort of prion diseases have historically been known for jumping between species barriers.
CWD has been confirmed in captive and free-ranging Deer and Elk in 23 states and two Canadian Provinces: Colorado, Wyoming, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Illinois, Alberta, Utah, New York, West Virginia, Kansas, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri, North Dakota, Maryland, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Sustainable Agriculture and Wildlife Corp, LLC (SAWCorp) has introduced the very first practical blood test for Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk. “This is an important day for hunters and for the hunting industry,” noted Dr. Rick Vierling, head of SAWCorp’s Science Advisory Board and also an avid hunter. “We finally have a way of helping to stop the spread of CWD and insure that our harvested deer and elk are safe and CWD free.” The patented test has been validated in numerous academic and commercial labs and is awaiting USDA approval for use in deer farming and federally managed lands.
After collecting a blood sample in the field from the hunter’s harvest, a prepaid envelope is provided to mail the blood sample to SAWCorp’s lab, the National Agricultural Genotyping Center in Fargo, North Dakota. Results are back within 7-10 days, allowing hunters to test their harvested deer to ensure that it is CWD free to protect their family.
The blood collection kits retail for $9.95 each and include everything necessary to collect and send blood samples for one harvested deer. The lab tests are ordered separately for $40.00. Both are available online at www.cwddeertest.com.
Based in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, SAWCorp was founded in early 2016 to license and implement the CWD testing technology. The team of principals and key advisors of SAWCorp have more than a century of experience in almost every aspect of agriculture and wildlife. This team includes agricultural geneticists, deer/elk producers, hunters, ranchers, feed mill operators and game preserve operators. SAWCorp partners with the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC) for lab operations and testing services. NAGC was established in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association, Los Alamos National Lab and the USDA.