Breaking News
February 16, 2019 - FDA authorizes new interoperable insulin pump for children, adults with diabetes
February 16, 2019 - Coexisting Medical Conditions, Smoking Explain PTSD-CVD Link
February 16, 2019 - Skin Cancer Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
February 16, 2019 - ‘Happiness’ exercises can boost mood in those recovering from substance use disorder
February 16, 2019 - Cell manipulation could soon halt or reverse aging
February 16, 2019 - Pumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed Version
February 16, 2019 - Men’s porn habits could fuel partners’ eating disorders, study suggests
February 16, 2019 - Rapid progression of age-related diseases may result from formation of vicious cycles
February 16, 2019 - Immune checkpoint molecule protects against future development of cancer
February 16, 2019 - New method produces hydrogels that have properties similar to cells’ environment
February 16, 2019 - $4.1 million funding for heart research on Valentine’s Day
February 16, 2019 - General anesthesia in early infancy unlikely to have lasting effects on developing brains
February 16, 2019 - New breakthroughs for muscular dystrophy research
February 16, 2019 - First Opinion: Embryo editing for higher IQ is a fantasy. Embryo profiling for it is almost here
February 16, 2019 - Vapers develop cancer-related gene deregulation as cigarette smokers
February 16, 2019 - Bringing Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) to the Community
February 16, 2019 - Decolonization protocol after hospital discharge can prevent dangerous infections
February 16, 2019 - Therapeutic endoscopy has an expanding role in the treatment of IBD
February 16, 2019 - Blood clot discovery could lead to development of better treatments for blood diseases
February 16, 2019 - Intervention can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates
February 16, 2019 - New project explores how gaming technologies can help cancer patients communicate better
February 16, 2019 - Catalyst Biosciences Presents Updated Data from Its Phase 2/3 Trial of Subcutaneous Marzeptacog Alfa (Activated) in Individuals with Hemophilia A or B with Inhibitors at the 12th Annual EAHAD Congress
February 16, 2019 - Rerouting nerves during amputation reduces phantom limb pain before it starts
February 16, 2019 - A Hormone Produced When We Exercise Might Help Fight Alzheimer’s
February 16, 2019 - Millions of British people breathe toxic air travelling to GPs
February 16, 2019 - Conformance of genetic characteristics found to be crucial for longer preservation of kidney graft
February 16, 2019 - Researchers use optogenetic tool to control, visualize receptor signals in neural cells
February 16, 2019 - New reversible antiplatelet therapy could reduce risk of blood clots, prevent cancer metastasis
February 16, 2019 - Testosterone is not the only hormone needed for penis development
February 16, 2019 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Spravato (esketamine) Nasal Spray for Adults with Treatment-Resistant Depression
February 15, 2019 - Heart surgery technology developed at Baptist Health debuts after years of secrecy
February 15, 2019 - Prescription Opioids Double Risk of Triggering Fatal Car Crash
February 15, 2019 - New study helps doctors better understand high blood pressure in pregnant women
February 15, 2019 - Beta wave control in Parkinson’s diseased brain could be a potential therapy
February 15, 2019 - Media representations of love may justify gender-based violence in young people
February 15, 2019 - Yoga May Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms, Severity
February 15, 2019 - Obstructive sleep apnea linked to inflammation, organ dysfunction
February 15, 2019 - Master your mind: A challenge from WELL for Life
February 15, 2019 - Why Some Brain Tumors Respond to Immunotherapy
February 15, 2019 - Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
February 15, 2019 - Researchers uncover novel mechanism and potential new therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s
February 15, 2019 - Genetic variations in a fourth gene associated with higher ALL risk in Hispanic children
February 15, 2019 - Disruptive behavioral problems in kindergarten linked with lower employment earnings in adulthood
February 15, 2019 - New bioengineered device enhances the production of T-cells
February 15, 2019 - HDL proteome behaves like a tiny Velcro ball that is rolling on surfaces
February 15, 2019 - Puerto Rican children more likely to have poor or decreasing use of asthma inhalers
February 15, 2019 - Quality of patient care does not improve after physician-hospital integration
February 15, 2019 - Synopsys release new software for implant design and patient-specific planning
February 15, 2019 - 6 out of 10 hip replacements last 25 years or longer
February 15, 2019 - Health Tip: What You Should Know About Antibiotics
February 15, 2019 - New research challenges medical consensus that adenoids and tonsils significantly shrink during teenage years
February 15, 2019 - Discovery of weakness in a rare cancer could be exploited with drugs
February 15, 2019 - UVA scientists find potential explanation for mysterious cell death in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
February 15, 2019 - New rules requiring female athletes to lower testosterone levels are based on flawed data
February 15, 2019 - Researchers comprehensively sequence the human immune system
February 15, 2019 - Researchers study animal venoms to identify new medicines for treating diseases
February 15, 2019 - Movement of wrist bones revealed by MRI and computer modeling
February 15, 2019 - Philips introduces new premium digital X-ray room to help shorten patient wait times
February 15, 2019 - Women fare worse than men following aortic heart surgery, study finds
February 15, 2019 - High-protein and low-calorie diet helps older adults lose weight safely, shows study
February 15, 2019 - Drug microdosing effects may not measure up to big expectations
February 15, 2019 - Discharged, Dismissed: ERs Often Miss Chance To Set Overdose Survivors On ‘Better Path’
February 15, 2019 - A digitized lab environment to be showcased at smartLAB 2019
February 15, 2019 - Scientists uncover main mechanisms of fluconazole drug resistance
February 15, 2019 - New study seeks to understand how colibactin causes cancer
February 15, 2019 - Photoacoustic imaging accurately measures the temperature of deep tissues
February 15, 2019 - Large study finds no association between phthalate exposure and breast cancer risk
February 15, 2019 - New research explains presence of ‘natural’ magnetism in human cells
February 15, 2019 - Bio-Rad launches new digital PCR system and kit for monitoring treatment response in CML patients
February 15, 2019 - Excessive daytime sleepiness in OSA patients linked to greater risk for cardiovascular diseases
February 15, 2019 - Scientists shed light on damaging cell effects linked to aging
February 15, 2019 - Celiac disease may be caused by stomach bug in childhood
February 15, 2019 - NHS performance figures highlight the true scale of Emergency Department crisis
February 15, 2019 - High intensity exercise may improve health by increasing gut microbiota diversity
February 15, 2019 - Apellis’ APL-2 Receives Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA for the Treatment of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
February 15, 2019 - Couples creating art or playing board games release ‘love hormone’
February 15, 2019 - Glimpsing The Future At Gargantuan Health Tech Showcase
February 15, 2019 - Common herbicide found to increase the risk of lymphoma
February 15, 2019 - Over-abundance of energy to cells could increase cancer risk
February 15, 2019 - Oxford Genetics appoints Jocelyne Bath as new Chief Operating Officer
“Zombie Deer” disease scare

“Zombie Deer” disease scare

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Chronic wasting disease of the deer – source identified

Chronic wasting disease of the deer or CWD has been nicknamed “Zombie deer disease”. It has been affecting deer across Pennsylvania and has also been noted in Lancaster County. According to Dr. Frank Bastian, a neuropathologist and animal scientist with Louisiana State University, the source of the disease was unknown and misdiagnosed until now.

White-tailed deer. Image Credit: LagunaticPhoto / Shutterstock

White-tailed deer. Image Credit: LagunaticPhoto / Shutterstock

The deer-hunting industry is worth $1.8-billion in Pennsylvania and is a cottage industry in Lancaster County where there are several deer farms. In 1981, the first wide deer infected with CWD was found and reported. In 2012 an infected deer was found in Pennsylvania at a deer farm in Adams County. More wild deer with the condition were detected in 2012 in Blair and Bedford counties. Three deer were found at a farm in Denver and thus a quarantine zone was declared in regions of northern Lancaster County, Berks and Lebanon. This quarantine meant that the hunters had to submit the heads of their previous season kills for testing. In this drive a total of around 345 deer heads were collected. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says that none of the wild deer heads were found to be infected.

Dr. Frank Bastian has now claimed to have found the real cause behind CWD. Until now it has been believed that CWD in deer is akin to mad-cow disease or Creutzfeldt Jacob disease or sheep scrapie caused by altered brain protein fragments called prions. This theory was put forth by Neurologist Dr. Stanley Prusiner who won the Nobel Prizefor this in 1997. The prion theory is accepted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bastian and Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania however believe that the prion theory is not applicable for the CWD in deer. Bastian claims that there is a microbe – a bacterium that causes the disease. The prion proteins are the bacterial by-products that are found in deer  brain with chronic wasting disease he explained and thus not the cause of the condition. Bastian and his team have grown the bacteria in the lab and are working towards developing a vaccine against it and an appropriate antibiotic to kill it and prevent the disease and also treat it among wild as well as captive deer. The results of the study isolating the bacterium in the labs were published in 2017 in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.

Bastian is also developing a simple test kit that hunters can carry into the woods to test their kill for the infection. If they detect the infection, they could take the decision of not consuming the kill and also dispose of the infected animal appropriately, he explained.

The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania have called Bastian’s theory a “game changer” and a “breakthrough”. Stephen Mohr of Bainbridge, chairman of the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania board said in a statement, “We need answers now. Time is running out. Once CWD hits the Pennsylvania elk herd, it is over. They will be totally gone in 10 years or less.”

The Game Commission and the state Department of Agriculture however are still with the prion theory. Courtney Colley, chronic wasting disease communications specialist from the Game Commission said, “One of the first things to point out is that the Game Commission would welcome any successful effort by any researcher that will provide a test for CWD.” She said that if a vaccine was being developed against the disease, it was welcome news. She added however, “the one thing about Dr. Bastian’s research is that no one has been able to replicate it. No wildlife agency accepts the bacteria theory. As a state wildlife agency that manages wildlife in Pennsylvania, it would really be irresponsible of us not to follow the most widely accepted scientific research which is that prions are the cause of chronic wasting disease.”

Fear of CWD deer to jump to humans

There is a growing fear that consuming deer meat that is infected with CWD could transmit it to the humans. Experts from the University of Minnesota have urged health officials to treat this as a public health concern and take action. The spread of the disease is from Minnesota in the southeast portion of the state, including Winona County. Up until now no human cases of the infection have been reported.

Michael Osterholm, director for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy chaired the panel of experts who looked at the similar growth and development of mad cow disease a few decades previously. Osterholm said, “It is my best professional judgment based on my public health experience and the risk of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) transmission to humans in the 1980s and 1990s and my extensive review and evaluation of laboratory research studies … that it is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead. It is possible that number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have urged people to refrain from eating deer meat contaminated with the infection. At present only around 1 percent of the deer in Fillmore County are infected with CWD say the wildlife officials. In Wisconsin however, the rates are higher – up to 35 percent among deer populations.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles