Skip to comments.Infectious prions found in deer meat
Posted on 01/27/2006 9:35:14 AM PST by girlangler
Infectious prions found in deer meat Research finds the matter, which causes chronic wasting disease, in muscle. It had been thought to be only in nervous-system tissue. By Katy Human Denver Post Staff Writer
A person who eats venison could swallow the proteins shown to cause a deadly brain disease in deer, elk and moose, researchers reported today.
Their article in the journal Science represents the first time scientists have found the proteins that cause the affliction, chronic wasting disease, in the meat and muscle of deer.
Previously, it had been found only in the brain, spinal and lymph tissues. Health officials have long reassured hunters they would not be exposed to the disease as long as they did not touch or eat those parts.
A Colorado expert on the disease said the discovery doesn't necessarily mean that Colorado hunters should change their practices or that venison eaters should change their habits.
There's still no evidence that a person has caught a brain disease by eating a sick deer, said the expert, Mike Miller, a veterinarian with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
In the Science article, Colorado and Kentucky scientists said they had found "significant" amounts of disease-causing prion proteins in the hamstring muscle of deer dying from chronic wasting disease.
When injected into laboratory mouse brains, the muscle tissue caused wasting disease.
"People who are handling or consuming deer meat are going to be at risk to consuming prions," said Glenn Telling, a molecular biologist at the University of Kentucky and co-author of the study.
Scientists still don't know whether the deer prions can sicken people, Telling said, but the finding "raises the stakes."
Prions that cause a similar disease - mad cow - have never been found in cow muscle tissue.
Even so, a few people who ate mad-cow-infected beef have caught and died of a deadly brain disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob.
"People are more likely to
run a risk of exposure to chronic wasting disease proteins" through deer meat than they are to ingest mad-cow proteins by eating beef, Telling said. "It's clearly there in the meat, but in very small quantities," said Miller, also a co-author of the new paper.
"We've been saying for 10, 11 years now, 'Don't consume deer or elk that appear to be sick,"' Miller said. "If anything, this confirms that our standing recommendations are appropriate."
John Pape, an epidemiologist with the state health department, agreed.
He just submitted a paper showing that the incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in Colorado is no higher than it is elsewhere, even in places without chronic wasting disease.
"We can't exclude that possibility, that a rare (human) case could occur, but it's certainly not occurring at a high rate," Pape said.
The new study suggests that experts can monitor the incidence of chronic wasting disease by taking muscle samples from wild animals, Telling said.
Previously, the only reliable tests for the disease involved killing deer, elk or moose to test brain, lymph or spinal tissue.
Staff writer Katy Human can be reached at 303-820-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is why many were laughing when I was at an animal ID seminar. The government wants all livestock electronicaly marked for ID and tracking of many of the diseases that wildlife carries. Your herd shows signs and is removed, but infectious wildlife stays.
Yes and you probably also know that the deer and the antelope frequently graze amoung the cattle on the range!
They don't just graze, but I've seen the deer and the antelope play, and seldom was heard a discouraging word.
Sounds almost like King's I have a dream speach.
I have a dream that one day deer and antelopes will clasp hooves and sing in the words . . .
The only conclusion that I can draw from this is to quit injecting hamstring muscle into our brains. No mention of backstrap, but I will immediately quit injecting it into my brain.
yes but do the animal rights people feed the wildlife with supplemental feed in the winter?
Prions have not been shown to be infectious yet. They are suspected to be infectious - hence the name (proteinaceous infectious particle or Prion) but their mechanisms of action and reproduction are unknown.
There's enough bad, nay appalling science in virology without making up more infectious particles without proof.
That's it, no more venison for me!..............
Isn't a Prion that new car from Honda?...........
Venison. It's what's for dinner.
I've got a back strap defrosting right now!
I'm forwarding this to a childhood friend who loves deer meat.
You may have answered one of my questions. If the animal can only be infected by eating another infected animal (or by injecting tissue from an infected animal into their brains) then how did the wild population get it? If it's *common* in wildlife with only supplemental feed, then I fear our meat supply is probably in worse shape than I ever imagined. We may be in real trouble.
There a number of very suspicious cases of transmission to humans but the links are not definitive enough to be called proven. Here is link to the best study done on the cases carried out by the CDC.