Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”


Chronic wasting disease is an incurable, inevitably fatal illness that can affect all cervids: deer, elk, moose and caribou. It is one of several prion diseases (pronounced pree-on), of which the most well-known is mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies six known animal prion diseases and five that affect humans. The most common prion illness in people is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

 

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