CWD Forum

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

Hunters and deer farmers wanting more information about chronic wasting disease got a chance to hear from sources other than the DNR.

They came to the University of Stevens Point campus sponsored by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

One thing they heard about is the concerns deer farmers have about losing their business from people afraid of catching CWD.

"I think it's important that the public is open to different options from the organizations that are affected," says UWSP Senior Mike Emmenegger, who took some time to come to the forum at the College of Natural Resources building.

"The deer farmers are taking it on the chin," says Jim Weishan, President of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. "Everything that's happened is going to be blamed on them. It's the deer farmers that are blamed because they have the captive deer."

Weishan says the fear over CWD is keeping people from hunting, and that hunting license sales so far this year are down. Extended Web Coverage

Chronic Wasting Disease

  • To date, chronic wasting disease has been found only in members of the deer family in North America. Animals include: Rocky Mountain Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed deer.

  • There is ongoing research to explore the possibility of transmission of chronic wasting disease to other species.

Clinical Signs

  • Most cases of chronic wasting disease occur in adult animals.

  • The disease is progressive and always fatal.

  • The most obvious and consistent clinical sign of chronic wasting disease is weight loss over time.

  • Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals.

What Causes chronic wasting disease?

  • The agent responsible for chronic wasting disease has not been completely characterized.

  • There are three main theories on the nature of the agent that causes chronic wasting disease:
    • The agent is a prion, an abnormal form of a normal protein, known as cellular prion protein, most commonly found in the central nervous system.

    • The agent is an unconventional virus.

    • The agent is a virino, or "incomplete" virus composed of nucleic acid protected by host proteins. The chronic wasting disease agent is smaller than most viral particles and does not evoke any detectable immune response or inflammatory reaction in the host animal.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture contributed to this report.

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