February 22, 2003
No link found in deaths of 3 tied to wild game feasts
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A government report confirms that no link was found between chronic wasting disease and the brain-disease deaths of three outdoorsmen who shared wild game feasts in Wisconsin.
The finding was reported in Friday's issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The investigation was conducted by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, the CDC and other organizations.
The report notes that because only one of the three men died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder believed to be caused by a rogue protein known as a prion, no association could be made between the feasts and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Also, the report says the one man who took part in the feast and died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was unlikely to have eaten venison infected with chronic wasting disease because the meat served at the feasts did not originate from areas where CWD was known to exist.
Prions also are suspected agents in chronic wasting disease, a fatal brain disease of deer and elk.
The disease was first confirmed in wild deer in Wisconsin a year ago, prompting a massive campaign to eliminate it from the herd.
The CDC report notes that there were at least two limitations to its findings:
- Not all those who attended the feasts could be identified, and not all the known participants could be contacted for interviews by health officials.
- Those who were interviewed had to recall events that happened up to 25 years earlier, limiting detail and accuracy.
Reports of the deaths of the three men had raised concerns about whether CWD could infect people.
The report repeated previous health warnings not to eat meat from animals suspected of having chronic wasting disease.
The three men knew one another and ate elk and deer meat at wild game feasts in Wisconsin in the 1980s and 1990s.
Wayne Waterhouse of Chetek and Roger Marten of Mondovi, both 66, died in 1993. James Botts, 55, of Blaine, Minn., died in 1999.
Botts is the only one of the three who had a confirmed diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Marten's death was attributed to Pick's disease, a more common brain-destroying disorder.
State health officials said Waterhouse suffered from a degenerative neurological disorder, but scientists couldn't firmly diagnose the type.
On the Net:
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/.
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