Wants more info about chronic wasting/mad cow

Question: In the Jan. 18 "Outdoors" section, the story about wolves states that "some researchers say there's a chance that wolves could be a savior to big-game herds by controlling the spread of chronic wasting disease... wolves can remove infected individuals and clean up carcasses that could transmit the disease."

If such a scenario happens can chronic wasting disease (CWD) be transmitted to the wolves? Any research being done on this? Hunters want hunting rights on elk and oppose the growth of the grey wolf population. Can humans acquire CWD from eating CWD-infected elk which apparently is increasing in deer and elk herds and is not uncommon?

On Jan. 19, in "Wasting disease is rare in region," it says people are confused "about several types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)" and people "have heard rumors of area residents dying from the type of /CJD related to eating infected beef." Is the type of CWD in deer and elk herds related to CJD from infected beef? If it is, then what is the risk factor for hunters and their families and friends eating CWD-infected wild game? -- Pamela Small, Spokane

Answer: The reader is asking the same questions that researchers are asking. As we have reported in several stories, there has never been a documented case of chronic wasting disease crossing the link to cause a human form of the disease. Researchers are more actively looking into the possibilities.

Similarly, I haven't read of any case in which CWD has linked to wolves or animals other than deer or elk. I'm sure the wide range of researchers interviewed in this story would have addressed that issue if there had been a known relationship.

Wildlife agencies currently are testing deer and elk and are making it easier for hunters to have their animals checked. while there is little risk of a human coming in contact with CWD from elk or deer in this region, agency officials certainly make the obvious warning to avoid eating the meat of animals that appeared sickly in any way. They also recommend that hunter avoid coming in contact with the brain or spinal column of the animals as an added precaution. -- Rich Landers, outdoors editor

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