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Chronic Wasting Disease: U of MN Director of Infectious Disease Research and Policy Dr. Osterholm

Chronic Wasting Disease is moving closer to home - with a deer farm in Merrifieldtesting positive and closing, there's some reason to worry about the spread of the disease. The University of Minnesota considers CWD a potential public health crisis.  What exactly is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Chronic Wasting Disease affects the deer and elk family. 

It’s caused by a protein called a prion, which damages brain and nerve tissue. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine and other bodily fluids or tissues.

CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals, but it is fatal in deer and elk.  There are no known treatments or vaccines. Consuming infected meat is not advised.

Today we have the first in a series of reports about Chronic Wasting Disease.  We will look at the impact on the disease on the health of MN’s deer population, and proposals to contain the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in MN, but this morning we want to explore the possible impact CWD may have on human as well as animal health.

In March, the University of MN’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy launched its Chronic Wasting Disease Response and Research Project.  The project will study the potential for animal-to-human and human-to-human transmission.

The program is led by the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the U,Dr. Michael Osterholm

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.