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GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – The disease Chronic Wasting Disease has become a concern in many states with deer populations.

Mississippi wildlife specialists want to bring the issue to light before it comes into the state borders.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a degenerative brain disorder.

The cause of it is already in the animal’s body.

They’re called prions.

“All vertebrae animals produce prions as part of healthy brain function,” said Wildlife Management Professor, Dr. Steve Demarais. “The disease is caused by a bad prion, a misfolded prion, that gets into an organism, causing it to start making misfolded prions instead of regular prions.”

Demarais is with the College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State.

He uses human diseases as examples to give us a better understanding of CWD.

“Very roughly similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s or some of the brain damaged associated with impacts from football players,” said Demarais. “You realize that those things take a long time to occur.”

Some of the symptoms include: the inability to move, process information, or feed properly.

CWD can be transmitted deer-to-deer through bodily fluids, and unlike a bacteria or a virus, prions are not living organisms, making the disease un-treatable.

“It’s kind of like rabies. You know, if a person gets rabies, they’re dead,” compared Demarais.

Biologists suggest the meat can still be used for venison, but Demarais says we have made that mistake before with Mad Cow Disease, which also develops from prions.

“It was thought that it was no problem for human to eat beef,” he said. “Well, turns out that the beef prion is transferable to humans, and people have died from Mad Cow Disease.”

Twenty states are currently dealing with the disease.

So far, Mississippi is not one of them.

Demarais says one wrong move could potentially jeopardize the southern tradition of recreational hunting.

“It goes to our culture in Mississippi.” People love to hunt Whitetail deer,” he said. “I fear the day that we get chronic wasting disease in our deer and then beyond that if humans can someday catch the disease from eating venison.”

According to Demarais, there have been no reported cases of humans catching the disease from contaminated meat.

Comment on this Story

  • Ed Gehrman

    Do you really want answers to the mystery of TSE? If so visit tseresearchcenter.org and keep an open mind.

    The prion is the result of spiroplasma infection and created by the host as protection. TSE type diseases thrive with out prions.

    Prions are a red herring and the Enron of science.

    “Our studies show a tiny bacterium is involved in the pathogenesis of TSE. Since the discovery of spiroplasma inclusions in CJD brain tissues in 1976, we have confirmed the consistent presence of spiroplasma ribosomal DNA in TSE tissues. DNA sequence data show a link between spiroplasma in CWD and in scrapie. Spiroplasma have been isolated into cell free media from TSE brain and eye specimens confirming the association of this bacterium with TSE. Spiroplasma inoculated into rodents and ruminants produce spongiform encephalopathy and a clinical syndrome remarkably similar to naturally occurring TSE. Recent discovery of biofilm formation by spiroplasma on glass, MICA and stainless steel supports the concept of a bacterial etiology. It is noteworthy that the internal fibril structure of spiroplasma is morphologically identical to SAF.

    Spiroplasma entrapped in biofilm are protected from physical and chemical treatments, and not detected by the immune system, therein simulating the biologic properties of the TSE agent. Long conjugate interconnections between organisms in the biofilm suggest a mechanism wherein spiroplasma may form microcolonies in soil. Soil consumption by ruminants is likely responsible for lateral transmission of CWD. Sessile spiroplasma in biofilm produce a functional amyloid that may form a nidus for triggering prion amyloid formation. Continued accumulation of prion amyloid in TSE-affected brains likely occurs by self-assembly. Unfortunately this phenomenon has been interpreted as evidence of protein replication.” Dr. Frank Bastian

    Prions are nothing but bits of protein and could never act alone. They could never do the things attributed to them.

    Think about it. How do they cross the blood/brain barrier? How do they get from mouth to brain?

    Ed Gehrman

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