Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal brain disease found in North American deer, moose and elk. It belongs to a group of infectious diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, also referred to as prion diseases. CWD is caused by an abnormally shaped protein, called a prion, which affects the animal’s brain.
CWD has been identified in wild and farmed deer in Minnesota and neighboring states. The disease has been known and studied for decades and to date there is no scientific evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans under natural conditions. In addition, CWD has not been identified in domestic animals (including dogs and cats) or livestock other than deer or elk. However, in the laboratory, species barriers can be breached for many of the prion diseases. This means that a prion disease normally found in one species can be made to infect another species. For this reason, MDH does not recommend that people consume meat from a prion-infected animal, or from any animal that appears ill.
- About Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Information for the public, deer hunters and consumers about CWD, including occurrence, transmission, prevention, processing, and consuming venison. Includes a brochure for hunters.
- Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies
MDH performs routine surveillance for prion diseases in humans- mainly a disease called CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) – to search for illnesses in humans that could possibly be related to similar diseases in animals. To do this, we look for anything unusual such as clusters of disease, atypical case-presentations, unexpected age groups or unusual exposure histories that might indicate a new prion disease in humans. MDH has not identified any potential cases or clusters of cases.