August 25th, 2019

Researchers working on problem of chronic wasting disease


By Letter to the Editor on August 6, 2019.

Re: “Experts alarmed after deer meat from diseased herd allowed into food system,” Aug. 1 Herald.

As your article pointed out, chronic wasting disease is indeed a matter of concern here in Canada as it is always fatal to deer, elk, reindeer and moose. Apart from the impact on wildlife, CWD affects people who rely on cervids for food or as part of their culture, and hurts Canada’s reputation as a wildlife destination. Although there is currently no scientific evidence of transmission into the human population, all harvested deer from areas where CWD has been identified should be tested and positive animals should not be consumed.

Nevertheless, governments view the disease and its impact seriously, as do research and environmental groups who have been encouraging increased action and funding in this area. As the prevalence of CWD continues to increase across many geographic areas, the potential for transmission into humans and other species who live in the same areas with CWD-infected deer also increases. Again, it should be noted that there is no epidemiological or historic evidence of animal-to-human transfer of the disease.

Recognizing the importance of applied research to understand CWD, Genome Alberta, the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Prion Research Institute and Genome Canada have funded world-renowned researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary who are tackling CWD biology, spread and detection in Canadian deer and elk.

With continued government support and community engagement, CWD research will improve wildlife management strategies and enhance food safety for hunter groups and indigenous populations that rely on these animals.

Mike Spear

Director of Communications,

Genome Alberta

Calgary

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