Scientists Study First Human
CJD Suspected 'Mad Deer' Death
Kate Snow
CNN Correspondent
OTTAWA - Funeral services will be held Tuesday for the man some believe could be the world's first victim of mad deer disease. The case concerns public health officials in the U.S. and Canada because Doug McEwen was a frequent blood donor.
McEwen, 30, died in Utah from a form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. U.S. health officials say they don't know how he contracted the degenerative brain illness. But they do know it's similar to the so-called mad cow disease found in Britain.
Researchers plan studies to see if there's a link between CJD and meat from game hunted in the American Midwest.
McEwen ate game from areas where deer are known to carry a similar brain disease.
He died at home, with his family, only eight months after his symptoms first appeared.
Scientists will try to determine what caused his brain to deteriorate so fast.
Tracie McEwen worries about what the researchers will discover. "I think they're going to find something they really don't want to," she told CBC News.
Before her husband died, top U.S. scientists were fighting over who would get to study his brain.
Biologist Tom Pringle says the tonsils should be analyzed first because if the tonsils show signs of the infectious agent, it could mean the disease was in McEwen's blood.
McEwen was a frequent plasma donor. Products made from his blood are currently being used in Canada. Health Canada maintains there's nothing to worry about.