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Mad Deer Disease : SouthWest Wisconsin weeks into program to 'kill every deer'

The prions which cause Mad Deer (and Mad Cow) disease can only be destroyed by high temperature burning, and do the tens of thousands of deer carcasses are not being welcomed at land fills...

According to the story on CNN the cull of Wisconsin's mad deer has been going full throttle for weeks, with the goal of killing every single deer in the South Western part of the state. So far the deer have been cremated at pet cemetaries, but the cost could run into the millions, and so the state is looking to bury the deer in land fills. However, because the prions that cause mad Deer disease can only be destroyed by high temperature burning, there are fears that over time the agents might leech into ground water from the dump sites.

The story says that there is no evidence that Mad Deer disease can infect humans, which contradicts a story earlier in the year on the USA Today site, which described two Wisconsin hunters in hospital suffering from CJD most likely linked to eating Wisconsin's mad deer.

According to the CNN story "A deer affected with chronic wasting disease loses weight, begins trembling and stumbling, and dies. There is no known cure." Anyone who remembers those videos of mad cows pushing their way nose first over the ground, unable to stand, would be familiar with the symptoms.

Quite often, when a story about mad cows or mad deer is published there will be a kind of disclaimer included which states that 'there has never been a known case of mad cow disease in the United States.' Just mad deer. Which leaves one wondering where the deer developed mad deer disease and how they came into to contact with the prions that cause the disease.

A few years ago I watched a program on Nature (on PBS) which showed the problems faced by ranchers and wild animals, among them the problem of having grazing wild animals stealing cattle feed, for, after all, who can resist a free meal.

Now, according to the information that I have come across, in the United States it is still common practice to feed ground up dead animals to cattle, which was identified as the source of the outbreak in Europe several years ago. This practice bulks up cattle quicker, and thus increases the profitable of the cow at slaughtering time. This feed is now banned in Europe and in Canada, but apparently, for some weird reason, it is still legal to grind up dead animals and feed them to cows in the United States. So one thought comes to mind, and that is that mad Deer of Wisconsin caught mad cow disease the same way cows catch it, through contaminated cattle feed.

Now this leads one to ask why it would be the case that deer would stumbling nose first across the ground while there has 'never been a reported case of mad cow disease in the United States.' One difference here is that cows don't live out their natural life span in the United States, where many many millions are slaughtered every year, and mad cow disease is a sickness with an incubation period before symptoms actually are displayed (kind of like AIDs in that way). So it could be the case that deer just live a little longer, and thus we are noticing deer with the symptoms of mad cow disease, but no cattle showing similar symptoms. Add onto this the fact that the United States has no mad cow testing policy in place, and one can see that without a cow actually showing overt signs of the disease it could be said that there has 'never been mad cow disease discovered in the United States,' for, even if it was present, given that no testing regime is in place, it would not be discovered, and the cattle would be slaughtered before the disease could progress to the stage of showing symptoms.

Mad Cow disease mimics the symptoms of Alzheimers, and the only way to be sure of the presence of CJD is to take a section of the brain and examine it under the microscope after death (there is currently no way to diagnose CJD based on a blood test). According to the Alzheimers association, "One in 10 persons over 65 and nearly half of those over 85 have AD. A small percentage of people as young as their 30's and 40's get the disease." They have a fact sheet on 'Early Onset Alzheimers' --- (in pdf format)
Their fact sheet on Alzheimers (in pdf format)

According to this fact sheet, diagnosis of Alzheimers is plagued by the same problem of confirming a diagnosis of CJD (related to mad cow disease). It is impossible to confirm Alzheimers until after death, once again, as with CJD, by dissecting the brain.

According to the fact sheet, diagnosis is mostly by observation of memory loss and signs of dementia...

The write, "There is no single test to detect Alzheimer's disease. Currently the ability to detect abnormal structures in the brain of living person does not exist. Therefore, a diagnosis is based on a thorough evaluation of symptoms and an assessment of an individual's health. A physician will use a variety of tests to assess memory and thinking skills and will usually ask for input from a family member about changes in an individual's memory or behavior." the physician can then run blood tests and brain scans to rule out malnutrition, drug reactions, tumors and so on, and once these have been ruled out the patient can be diagnosed with Alzheimers. "Reserachers continue to investigate ways to improve diagnositic tools." they say, but for now emperical observation combined with the ruling out of other obvious causes is the only diagnosis presently available for Alzheimers.

And, coincidentally, the only diagnosis available for CJD, a disease which produces symptoms identical to Alzheimers, and which cannot be distinguished from Alzheimers unless an autopsy is performed after death, and a vivisection performed on the brain. Therefore, this fact, together with the existence of 'early onset Alzheimers' (as its called) and the existence on the planet of mad cow disease and CJD, as well as that puzzling outbreak of mad deer disease in Wisconsin, the lack of testing for mad cow, and the legality of suspect cattle feed in the United States, all suggest that while it can be said that there has 'never been a mad cow reported here' (although there certainly have been mad deer reported here) it remains a possiblity that mad cow disease is simply hidden from view by the rapidness of the slaughterhouse system, and that CJD is hidden from view by masquerading as cases of Alheimers, even as 'early onset Alheimers', which affects people in their thirties and forties, also typical of CJD.

But with no one looking to hard, and the regulations on ground up cattle feed non existent in the last bastion of 'free enterprise' cow ranching, the United States, one can only wonder. In any case I am looking forward to getting some answers as to where those deer of Wisconsin came into contact with the prions that have caused this outbreak of Mad Deer disease (cattle feed is one of the more likely suspects, which would tell you something right there).

Previous page on the same subject


The book, "Mad Cow USA" (not written by myself, but by the PR Watch site)

in pdf format

More on the subject 15.Jul.2002 13:59

pdx dragon

Mad Deer disease has been known for a few decades, but it has escalated greatly in the past few years. It is confirmed in at least 7 states: Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and recently New Mexico.

Mad Deer disease, is of the same type as Mad Cow disease, and may indeed be the same, just manifesting slightly differently from species to species.

"We know very, very little. We don't understand the transmission, we don't understand the origin, we don't understand any of this," says Stanley Prusiner, the University of California, San Francisco neurologist who won a Nobel Prize for developing the prion hypothesis.

A little-understood protein known as a "prion," a form of which is behind mad-cow disease, causes chronic wasting disease. In ways scientists don't yet fully grasp, prions enter the brain and set off a chain reaction, causing some of the brain's own proteins to assume an aberrant form. In humans, such rogue prion proteins are blamed for a rare, naturally occurring human illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and a related disease linked to eating contaminated beef from "mad cows."

Though there is no definitive proof that humans have been infected from from deer or elk meat, 3 hunters, have died from CJD. CJD is considered naturally occuring, but usually occurs in older people. These cases with hunters are unusual in that they were young. This is similar to the pattern found in Britian when humans died from Mad Cow disease.

There has been little effort to prevent the potential spread to humans. Many tens of thousands of deer are still being hunted and eaten, often without testing.

Efforts to contain the disease are hampered by lack of understanding. Though Wisconsin is currently undertaking an aggressive effort to kill all the deer in a 350 sq mile radius, it may have little effect in halting the spread of the disease. This sort of wholesale slaughter is a typical response from the myopic human mind - dealing genocide as a solution to prevent a disease. Since the disease is already in the wilds in at least 7 states, and has likely spread further already, this solution seems more like a political move than an intelligent response to the crisis.

Some speculation on the spread of the disease centers on Elk farms. Elk are moved across large regions, which could be the manner in which the disease has spread quickly to numerous states. Breeding pens are an ideal disease cultivation center, and eventual distribution center. This is a human created problem.

In the case of Mad Cow disease, it was the insane human practice of feeding cow parts to cows, and turning them into cannibals which spread the disease.

It might be that the only real long term solution is for humans to change their mad decadent lifestyle which destroys the fabric of life.

[ Organic Consumers Mad Deer webpage | Growing Plague Of "Mad Deer" Baffles Scientists | Mule deer found wasting disease in New Mexico; experts say it's southernmost case | Mad deer disease in Colorado ]