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🧟 Eating ‘zombie’ deer meat is safe, researchers say
« on: February 23, 2019, 12:51:12 AM »
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Eating ‘zombie’ deer meat is safe, researchers say

By Lia Eustachewich

February 22, 2019 | 1:58pm | Updated

A female mule deer and her fawn graze on grass in Utah. Getty Images

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Eating meat from “zombie” deer appears to be perfectly safe — for now.

Researchers examined about 80 people who’ve feasted on the meat of deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease — a fatal illness that causes zombie-like behavior in the animals and could spread to humans — and found over the course of the six-year study “no significant changes in health conditions,” USA Today reported on Thursday.

The tainted deer meat was unwittingly served to 200 to 250 at a fire company in Oneida County, New York, on March 13, 2005. The 80 or so mostly white males who ate the venison agreed to participate in the study carried out by the Oneida County Health Department and experts at the State University of New York-Binghamton.

While researchers found no significant health changes, they did report that the group overall ate less venison. Health conditions like vision loss, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight changes, high blood pressure and arthritis were attributed to old age.

“It’s the only study I’m aware of that has this progressive follow-up of a known point source contamination where we know the people ate a contaminated animal,” researcher Ralph Garruto, professor of biomedical and biological sciences at Binghamton, told USA Today.

Researchers check back in with the group every two years and plan to do so again in the spring, Garruto said.

He said as time goes on, the chances of a human developing CWD get slimmer, but there’s always a lingering chance.

“It only takes one case,” he said.

The results from the 2014 study are a sigh of relief, as CWD continues to ravage wildlife in at least 24 states — with the majority of cases in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas.

Though there are no known human cases of CWD, a Minnesota health expert recently warned that the disease might one day be found in people. He pointed to mad cow disease, which turned up in humans as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease in 1996, as an example.

But other experts say there’s no risk of crossover.

“Right now, most scientists believe there is a pretty strong ‘species barrier,’ which means that it’s unlikely the disease will jump to a new species,” said Krysten Schuler, a wildlife disease ecologist and co-director at the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab.

CWD affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose and causes the animals to lose weight and walk in repetitive patterns. They also lose their fear of humans and stumble before ultimately dying.

Lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation that would call for a federal study of the brain-eating disease.
Filed under animals ,  deer ,  Food ,  research ,  science
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