According to the CDC, chronic wasting disease has been detected in wild deer, elk or moose in 24 states. Hunters have been warned to avoid handling or eating the potentially infected meat. If you cannot help but handle the meat, wear latex or rubber gloves — especially when handling organs such as the brain or spinal cord. (The disease has also been reported in Canada, Norway, and Finland.)

From the same family of disease as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder) chronic wasting disease:1

  • affects the central nervous system
  • animals can show signs of drastic weight loss, lack of coordination and listlessness
  • animals can be more aggressive and less afraid of human contact
  • in deer and other cervids, the disease has an incubation period of over a year and some animals won’t show symptoms for years after being infected
  • the disease is always fatal

“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says animals will test positive for the disease long before its clinical signs appear ‘and the majority of CWD positive animals that are harvested appear completely normal and healthy.'”1

Scientists believe the contagious disease is passed between animals through bodily fluids and while there is currently no evidence to suggest the disease can spread to humans, hunters should still be careful and take serious precautions.


  1. CNN