Elk NetworkNo Proven Cases of CWD Transmission to Humans to Date

General | April 26, 2024

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation stands beside other wildlife experts, discounting several recent media accounts claiming two hunters died from chronic wasting disease after eating infected deer meat.

The media outlets took the story from an abstract posted by a research journal, but one of its authors said that is not the case.

“After speaking with (study author) Dr. Sarah Horn, she informed us that the information is not from a research study, it was a poster presentation of a case report presented at the AAN annual meeting,” Eilene Teves, spokesperson for the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, told Outdoor Life. “The conclusion from that presentation was there remain no proven cases of transmission to date.”

Outdoor Life also quoted an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist and researcher who disputed the reports by posting, “There is no evidence of CWD infecting hunters. There are clusters of CJD (Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease) throughout the country — some in CWD areas and some outside CWD areas. With the spread of CWD nationwide, it is not very noteworthy that 2 CJD victims in the same rural area may have both eaten venison. We have to be vigilant about the possible jump of a prion disease from deer to hunter, but this note appears to me to be a very careless and childish attempt at making a splash in the media.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a founding member and sponsor of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. Along with other partners, RMEF more recently created the CWD Applied Research Program in 2019, which brings together top CWD researchers and managers to identify the highest priority research that will impact CWD management.

Since 1995, RMEF supplied more than $800,000, including $100,000 in 2023, to state agencies and other partners for CWD surveillance, management, research and outreach.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)