April 6, 2002 Madison, Wisconsin - On February 28th, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed three cases of deadly chronic wasting disease (CWD) in free ranging white-tailed deer in the Mount Horeb area of western Dane County. This week that number jumped to ten. Since March 5, 2002, the DNR has collected 197 deer samples from that region and plans to collect 300 more. CWD is a prion disease that attacks brains and nervous systems similar to mad cow in cattle, scrapie in sheep and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob and kuru in humans. The culprit in both animals and humans is called a prion. Prion stands for proteinaceous infectious particles. More simply, prions start out as normal proteins that mysteriously change shape and then destroy brain and nerve tissue. To this date, no one knows what caused the proteins to change shape in the first place or how misshapen proteins are transmitted. There is no blood test to find prions while animals are alive and no cure after prions are confirmed. Death usually occurs within weeks or months.
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