Troubling news coming out of wildlife disease research

Most deer hunters are familiar with chronic wasting disease (CWD). Now there is something new to worry about. CWD is a type of brain-damaging disease known to be a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) or prion disease in deer, elk and moose.

There are three other TSE diseases that make the news occasionally:

» Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle

» Scrapie in sheep

» Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans

Humans are not susceptible to sheep scrapie, but BSE did infect about 200 people in Europe in the 1990s. Those findings provided the rationale for a current CWD study being conducted in Canada. This particular study started in 2003.

Macaque monkeys contracted chronic wasting disease after eating meat from CWD-positive deer, according to Canadian researchers. These monkeys where fed infected venison over a three year period.

The quantity of meat fed to the monkeys equates to a human eating a 7-ounce steak per. That is not much venison, and I eat far more than that when I have venison in my freezer.

Three of the five macaques in the study that were eating venison contracted the disease. This finding is the first scientifically documented transmissions of CWD to a primate eating diseased venison.

Because the macaque has a genome very close to that of a human, the results have heightened concerns of human susceptibility to CWD. Researchers and health officials have long wanted to know more about the potential for interspecies CWD transmission.

According to the Alliance for Public Wildlife, a Canadian-based wildlife conservation organization, hunting families in North America eat between 7,000 and 15,000 CWD-infected animals every year. No cases of CWD transmission have been documented.

“This study does not mean people will get CWD,” said Dave Clausen, a Wisconsin veterinarian, deer hunter and former chairman of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. “But it means people need to be considering that possibility.”

Another test group of monkeys had CWD infected venison rubbed on their skin did not contract the disease, so it appears that simply coming in contact with infected venison offers a very low risk to a hunter.

The World Health Organization, the federal Center for Disease Control and many state wildlife agencies recommend that hunters do not eat the eyes, brain, spinal cord, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of any deer. It is also recommended that wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses, and to bone out the meat from the animal as an extra caution.

I’m sure we will be hearing more about this in the future. Nebraska hunters can visit the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission website and read more about this CWD study and the extra precautions and testing that Game and Parks has implemented for the 2017 deer seasons.

Gun show news

Next weekend is the Platte Rover Sportsmen’s Club Gun and Knife Show at the D&N Event Center. The show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5, and kids 12 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.

You can make a whole day of it because lunch and snacks are available on the premises. This has grown into a very nice show and you may need all day to get through everything. Whatever you are looking for in guns, ammo or accessories, you have a good chance of finding it here.

Even though this is advertised as a gun and knife show, that’s not all there is to see. Additional vendors include Mustang Purses, which specializes in concealed carry handbags. Maybe you are looking for a way to keep your gun out of sight, but not locked away in a vault. Check out the Shelf Reliance folks. They sell shelving units designed to conceal firearms from the casual observer.

If you’re looking for something really unique, check out Metal Art by Jenson Hot Point Metal Works will be at the show. They can make any kind of custom metal sign. R. Schutte Artworks will also be at the show with custom lapidary jewelry. Very cool! Looking for a wildlife print for your den or office? You can find this at the show too.

Fat Boys Smokehouse will be there with a selection of their wares. And if you are looking for a custom knife, check out Sharp Precision Knives.

Last but not least, make sure you check out the various raffle and door prizes. For more information, contact John Christiansen at 308-530-1658.

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