Friday, September 22, 2017

A Horrible Disease - Kruetzfeldt-Jakob


         I had a sad conversation only a few days ago with a lady from Camdenton who told me that several years ago her husband died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Her name was Carol Schroeder. Her husband’s death was due to the same horrible disease that biologists call ‘Chronic Wasting Disease’ in deer and elk. It has also been called mad deer disease, or mad cow disease when it occurs in cattle.

         You have not heard the Missouri Department of Conservation talk about whether or not the disease can spread from deer to humans, but it is known that it does, whether it comes from deer or cattle.  For some reason, the news media has helped the MDC keep people very uninformed about this disease.  But there is much that you need to know if you hunt deer and eat deer.

         First of all, NEVER eat Venison that someone else has killed and butchered, and though it was an accepted thing to do for years past, DO NOT EAT DEER MEAT THAT COMES FROM THE SHARE YOUR HARVEST PROGRAM which the MDC has carried forth for years and years. You cannot be sure there are no prions in that meat you receive.  

         It is believed that prions, which are the diseases infective agents in deer, elk, goats, and cattle is not found in blood or meat, but rather in the brain and spinal fluid of the animal.  It might possibly be found in bone marrow, but that is something they aren’t sure about.  It might well be that you could eat the meat from a CWD animal without getting the disease, but if that animal has been shot in the spine or brain, prions may be found throughout the body of the animal.
         If the spinal column is cut as part of the butchering who knows where prions may be in the meat.  The MDC knows that.  This year all deer killed in a selected twenty-five county area in the state MUST BE checked at a designated check station for CWD… the animal term for the Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs malady in man.  I believe if deer hunting is to continue in states with a good percentage of CWD deer, that testing has to be part of it. I don’t think I ever want to eat another deer if it hasn’t been tested.  Maybe if I hadn’t talked to so many people in this state who have lost loved ones to that disease, I wouldn’t be so nervous about killing a deer and butchering it, putting the meat in my freezer that will be eaten by several others than just me.
         But in a dozen or so cases I have been contacted about, all were men and all were deer hunters.  Relatives talked of the horrible consequences they witnessed in the death of their loved ones. In each case, the Center for Disease Control out of Atlanta has required the victims to be immediately cremated, no embalming or funeral allowed.
        The lady I talked with told me that her husband had died in a St.Louis hospital in a quarantined room and that his body was taken to the crematory by police escort to be sure that if any accident occurred on the way his body would not be handled by unknowing first responders.
         “I never believed in assisted suicide,” she told me, but I would have given anything if it could have happened for my poor husband.  It took him two months to die and what he went through, what I saw as his brain deteriorated, I cannot even talk about it to this day.”  So because of what I have learned I would recommend that no one in the future take deer meat they know nothing about, and that would end the economic viability of deer processing plants and those who make deer sausage and jerky often for gifts or sale.
         I don’t like that, because the great percentage of those people are fine folks and have nothing to do with what created this disease.  Of course those who handle deer meat on that kind of scale use rubber gloves, but no one can be absolutely sure that they won’t be in contact with prions when you are dealing with dozens of deer. That’s because no one seems to know exactly what those ‘prions’ are . They are some kind of strange protein, not a virus or bacteria.  I have asked my daughter, a doctor, to tell me more about it, but even though she saw a patient with disease in medical school, she hesitates to say much about the disease, or the prions, because doctors really aren’t sure what to say about, and how to adequately inform the public about it.

         If you research it, you will learn that it is pretty much known that Kruetzfeldt -Jakobs disease was first diagnosed in England, sometime in the seventies and eighties of the last century.  The cattle industry in that country was giving cattle all kinds of medicines and hormones to put more weight on steers and produce more milk in dairy cattle.  The beef producers got the great idea that man could go against the way God had created things to make more money.  He had created herbivores and carnivores and omnivores on this earth, if you really do believe in a Creator.  Herbivores are plant eaters, carnivores are meat eaters and omnivores are those creatures which eat both plants and meat.

         Omnivores include man but not deer or cattle. But the industry started feeding cattle meat by-products and bone meal mixed into the feed in feedlots.  That is how the mad-cow disease began, as a result of greedy men wanting to make beef cattle heavier and dairy cattle bigger to produce more milk.  In deer it started with that same kind of greed.  Mix in meat and bone meal to feed elk and deer and it would make them bigger, with bigger antlers.  In North Missouri, an Amish man who wanted to raise and sell big bucks in pens, bought several CWD infected deer from a deer breeder in Ohio and it has been reported, but not verified, that as hundreds of people started to raise deer in pens, they were worried that a unhealthy looking deer might infect others, so they released them into the wild.

         The first cases of wild deer dying from the disease took place just a little ways from a penned-deer operation in North Missouri.  Those operations are now found all over Missouri, and I am not sure if all of them, or even the greater percentage of them, have had their stock tested.  It is a big time moneymaker for those who raise deer, because the bucks they raise are put in enclosures where they can be hunted by very wealthy trophy seekers. 
         I was told by a man who worked at such a place that he helped inject bucks with two chemicals so they could be moved from pens where they were raised, to a pen where they could be shot.  He said the chemical given to the buck had warnings on the boxes to not inject the chemical into any animal that would be eaten. He said that those deer were all processed and given to the MDC to go into the “Share Your Harvest” program.  He said it is likely that many poor families ate meat that was chemically tainted by those dangerous injections and never knew it.  Another reason that this state should immediately stop that practice of giving deer meat away to poorer families.  People are dying from eating CWD deer meat.  The MDC no doubt knows there is a risk but if you look at their announcements and their concerns over the disease, they never ever acknowledge that it might be a risk for hunters and their families who eat venison.

         In fact, I doubt if there are any records to be found about the number of people in this state or any others who have died from Kruetzfeldt-Jakobs disease. Why not?  Don’t you think there are accurate numbers on deaths from other diseases?  CWD is a threat to Conservation Departments because they will lose great amounts of money if deer hunters stop buying deer tags.  If non-resident hunters quit coming here, it will harm the state’s economy. 
         If you want to realize how deep all this might go, you should realize that this article cannot be used in a large number of Missouri Newspapers… not even as a letter to the editor.  As far as this problem may extend into today’s deer numbers in this state or how much of a problem it may become, you are never going to know what the whole truth is.  But the people of this state needs to hear from Mrs. Schroeder and others who have witnessed the disease, people like Bill Zippro from Joplin who lost his brother to the disease the year after his brother killed a big buck that didn’t seem to be wild.

         But none of that is going to happen.  So I pass on the one thing that seems to be a way for hunters to be a little safer.  Don’t even touch a sick or dying deer, and do not clean a deer shot in the spinal column or brain.  Don’t cut through any bone, cut the meat off the carcass without causing any cuts or damage to the spinal column.  In that way, even if the prions are there, you are not likely to contact them or release them into the meat.  The day has to come, and soon, that all deer killed in this state are immediately tested, so the meat can be utilized by a hunter and his family, safely.

         And I would recommend that everyone who hunts read the article in one of my past magazines written by a Texas doctor about deer and CWD.  To get a copy of it call my office…417-777-5227.

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