Bismarck – As chronic wasting disease is slowly spreading its way through the deer population in North Dakota, experts are concerned.
It’s a question of “when” as opposed to “if”, and that question is when will the first human case of chronic wasting disease be discovered.
“It is probable that human cases of Chronic Wasting Disease associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead. Said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
And to some, that’s terrifying, and North Dakota is not immune from CWD, in fact since 2008, 15 cases of CWD have been documented across the state while CWD has been found in deer in 24 other states including every state North Dakota touches including Saskatchewan
Dr. Charlie Bahnson is the wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department tells me he believes a human case would be rare.
“Right now all evidence indicates that the chances of that happening are very very low, that being said you can never say that there’s zero,” Said Bahnson.
Hunters I talked to, like Jeff Bakken, tell me knowing CWD is out there doesn’t scare him and his buddies…
We’re not really thinking about it, but, they have had a couple drops off for your deer head to have it tested, but I’ve never gotten anything back so I really haven’t worried about it”
even though no human cases have been found, studies involving monkeys have shown those eating contaminated meat do become infected.
But Bakken tells me he would probably take the chance and consume CWD meat.
“That’s a tough question, I say I would do it now, but would I really do if they told me it did, I don’t know.”
But Bahnson says it’s better to be safe than sorry…
“If you do harvest a deer where CWD is known to occur, that you have that deer tested and you wait to consume that meat until you get back a negative result.”
The game and fish department says they consider CWD the biggest threat to the future of big game hunting across the state and they’ll do everything they can to eradicate it.
Experts say if you think you’ve come into contact with a contaminated deer gall the game and fish department immediately.