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CWD and Human Health

CWD Home

A growing concern among hunters is the outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in some areas of the state. While the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission remains concerned about the spread of the disease and is continually refining strategies for monitoring, containing and eliminating it from the state, it's important to note that CWD has not been shown to be infectious to humans. CWD in wild deer, to date, has been found in 78 animals, all except two, in the Panhandle. Several of those animals were found in close proximity to a northern Sioux County captive game ranch that had a high rate of infection among captive deer.

Still, some hunters are concerned about the disease and its potential impact on human health. Below are a number of points that should be kept in mind when assessing CWD.

  1. The World Health Organization and the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention have found no scientific evidence to date that CWD can be transmitted to humans.
  2. CWD-infected deer and elk have existed in areas of Colorado and Wyoming for more than 40 years, with no apparent association between CWD and any human disease. The incidence of the human form of this disease (CJD) in this area has remained at the expected normal rate of one case per one million people. This includes processors, taxidermists, and researchers who have handled hundreds of CWD-infected animals.
  3. Scrapie (the form of the disease found in domestic sheep) has been present in domestic sheep for more than 400 years, with no evidence of transmission to humans even though, historically, scrapie-infected sheep were slaughtered and the meat sold for consumption.
  4. Incidence of CJD in humans in Wisconsin occurs annually at the same rate of one case per one million people, the same as elsewhere.
  5. The three deaths reported from Wisconsin that some media hype attributed to CWD occurred years before CWD was found in Wisconsin. One of these individuals died from CJD (in 1992), one from Pick's disease (in 1992), a totally unrelated brain disease, and one from other causes. Additionally, all three fit the classic age bracket for CJD cases. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia has been unable to connect these deaths to CWD.
  6. Three of the top researchers on CWD have lived in and hunted in the known CWD area for more than 25 years. They continue to hunt in those areas and consume the venison of animals they harvest after testing for CWD.

Even still, the Commission strongly recommends that hunters not eat the meat of any animal that appears sick. The classic symptoms of CWD include emaciation, loss of bodily control, excessive salivation and water consumption and listlessness. If hunters see an animal displaying these or other symptoms of illness, do not shoot the animal. Note its location as precisely as possible and contact the Commission or a Conservation Officer so that Commission staff can investigate. Just because it is exhibiting these signs does not automatically mean that the animal has CWD, it could have a number of other diseases.

Each year, the Commission will ask hunters checking deer in the endemic area to voluntarily submit the heads of animals taken for CWD testing. We will notify hunters when test results are available. Additionally, the Commission will seek voluntary submission of at least 100 heads in each of the remaining management units.

Participating Veterinary Clinics

CityOrganization NameWork Phone
AldaPlatte Valley Vet Hospital(308) 381-8049
AtkinsonAtkinson Veterinary Clinic(402) 925-5110
AuburnTown & Country Vet Clinic(402) 274-3336
Battle CreekTwo Town Vet Clinics(402) 675-5300
BenkelmanTwin Forks Vet Clinic(308) 423-2895
BertrandBertrand Veterinary Clinic(308) 472-5039
BurwellBurwell Veterinary Hospital(308) 346-4145
ChambersChambers Veterinary Clinic(402) 482-5760
ColumbusTwin Rivers Vet Clinic(402) 562-8387
CortlandWillow Creek Veterinary Service(402) 798-7010
CozadCozad Vet Clinic(308) 784-4200
David CityBar S Vet Clinic(402) 367-3036
Falls CityAnimal Health Ctr.(402) 245-4438
FarnamStock-Aid Vet Clinic(308) 569-2360
FremontAnimal Medical Clinic(402) 721-3033
GrantPerkins County Vet Hospital(308) 352-2630
KearneyGlenwood Vet Clinic(308) 234-1475
LeighLeigh Vet Clinic(402) 487-2825
LincolnLancaster Equine Clinic(402) 782-2215
LincolnAnimal Haven Pet Hosp.(402) 467-1944
LincolnUN-L Veterinary Diagnostic Center(402) 472-1434
North PlatteNorth Platte Vet Clinic(308) 532-0366
PalmerPalmer Vet Clinic(308) 894-5125
Pawnee CityPawnee Animal Clinic(402) 852-2251
RushvilleBeguin Veterinary Service(308) 327-2869
SchuylerValley Veterinary Clinic(402) 352-2625
SchuylerSchuyler Veterinary Clinic(402) 352-3456
SidneySidney Vet Hospital PC(308) 254-2939
St. PaulSt. Paul Veterinary Clinic(308) 754-4222
StapletonLogan County Vet Clinic PC(308) 636-2466
WahooWahoo Animal Hospital(402) 443-4880
WahooWalnut Street Vet Clinic(402) 480-3393
WaunetaSouthwestern Vet Services(308) 394-5740

Participating Laboratories

Fair St. & E. Campus Loop
Lincoln, NE 68583-0907
Phone: (402) 472-1434
COST: $29.50 (plus extraction cost)
1174 Snowy Range Road
Larime, WY 82070
Phone: (307) 742-6638
COST: $25.00
300 W. Drake RD., RM. E 100
Phone: (970) 491-1281
COST: $22.00

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - 2200 N. 33rd St. Lincoln, NE 68503 - 402-471-0641

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