MADISON, Wis. The deaths of three
Wisconsin hunters in the 1990s who shared a taste for
wild game are being investigated for any connection to
a fatal brain disease afflicting the state's deer herd,
health authorities said Wednesday.
Scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta have agreed to help Wisconsin
investigate the deaths, two of which were from Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, a rare disorder that has been tied in Europe
to eating meat from cattle infected with mad cow disease.
The other man died from Pick's disease, a more common
The autopsy records of the three men, who all shared
a love of the outdoors and ate wild game, are being
reviewed by federal and state investigators, a spokesman
for the Centers for Disease Control said.
Wisconsin and eight other U.S. states, mostly in the
Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions, have reported
cases of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk herds,
a similar ailment to mad cow disease, which is formally
known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Believed
caused by misshapen proteins called prions, the diseases
create holes in the animals' brains and eventually kill
Chronic wasting disease has not been shown to infect
humans or cattle, but the World Health Organization
has advised against eating venison or any part of an
animal showing signs of the disease. The warning has
raised concerns about venison stored in home freezers
across Wisconsin, a prime state for deer hunting that
generates roughly $1.5 billion annually.
The state plans to eradicate the deer herd from an
area where more than a dozen animals have tested positive
for the disease and then test the carcasses.