Mad Deer Disease Hits Wisconsin -
Hunters Warned
Health Officials Studying Links
Between Disease And People


There's serious question about the health and future of the state's bucks and does after the deer version of mad cow disease moves from the west to Wisconsin.
State wildlife experts are calling an infection of fatal chronic wasting disease a nightmare they never thought would come to Wisconsin.
Now they're struggling to find ways to fight the deer version of mad cow disease before it spreads throughout Wisconsin's herd -- and possibly to people.
However, right now there are a lot more questions than answers, News 3 reported.
Farmers in Vermont Township have already spotted sick, and staggering deer near the place where three bucks were shot last fall. Tests just in show all suffered from fatal chronic wasting disease, the deer version of mad cow disease.
Until now the disease had been confined to western states, such as Colorado and Wyoming.
"We have to assume the worst, and plan for the worst, and if it's not that bad, then we've overreacted, but I'd prefer to over react in this case," said Sen. James Baumgart, D-Sheboygan, the state Senate's Environmental Resources chair.
Baumgart has called for emergency testimony about the disease that no one seems to know much about, except for the fact that up to 70 percent of deer die when exposed.
"We could be looking at a problem with tremendous impact on not only the whole white-tail deer herd, but public perception of the opportunity to hunt in that area," said Dr. Sarah Hurley, DNR deputy administrator.
Extraordinary measures most likely to be implemented include aerial surveys, hiring sharp shooters to get more samples and taking heads from roadkill deer to labs.
Right now there's no evidence people are in danger.
"But no one can predict with certainty that CWD can never cross the human spectrum barrier," said Dr. James Kazmierczak, state veterinary epidemiologist.
For now, hunters told News 3 that they don't plan on eating any deer meat.
"Until more tests get done, I think people are going to be a little hesitant on going deer hunting and then eating the deer," said Rick Urben, a Dane County deer hunter.
Some Wisconsin DNR experts are in Nebraska brainstorming with their colleagues from Wyoming and Colorado. Many say federal funds will be needed because getting a handle on this is going to be expensive.
What Is It?
Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, previously contained in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die.
The Centers for Disease Control have not found any links between chronic wasting disease and any neurological disease that affects humans.
Should Hunters Be Concerned?
Health officials advise hunters not to consume meat from animals known to be infected with the disease. In addition, they suggest hunters take simple precautions when field dressing deer or elk taken in areas where the disease is found, such as:
* Wear rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses.
* Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
* Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
* Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals.

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