Human Health Risks From CWD

CWD Transmission to People

There have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. Animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, such as monkeys. These recent studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people and suggest it is important to prevent human exposure to CWD. Hunters and others should take precautions when processing any game to help prevent the transmission of any potential disease.

Based on monitoring MDC has conducted since 2002, CWD appears to be relatively rare in the state at this time with only 42 cases found out of more than 76,000 deer tested. Counties in Missouri where CWD has been found include: Adair, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, and St. Clair.

Have Deer Tested for CWD

In areas where CWD is known to be present (Adair, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, and St. Clair counties), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters strongly consider having their harvested deer tested before eating the meat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not consuming an animal that tests positive for the disease. Do not eat meat from deer that look sick or are found dead. If a hunter chooses to dispose of the processed meat, do so properly through a trash service to a properly permitted landfill to prevent the spread of the disease.

To have deer that have been harvested inside the CWD Management Zone tested for CWD prior to processing, contact the local MDC office.

To have deer that have been harvested outside the CWD Management Zone tested for CWD prior to processing, contact the State-Federal Cooperative Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Springfield at (417) 895-6861, or agriculture.mo.gov/animals/health/diagnosticlabs.php, or the University of Missouri Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory in Columbia at (573) 882-6811 or vmdl.missouri.edu.

Recommendations for Hunters and Others

  • Do not handle or consume any deer that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • Contact the Missouri Department of Conservation if you see or harvest a deer that appears sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Bone out meat from harvested deer. Don’t saw through bone and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Do not use household knives or other kitchen utensils for field dressing.
  • Minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • For specific precautions on processing and consuming meat from deer with CWD, visit the Department of Health and Senior Services at health.mo.gov/cwd.

Commercial Processing

For deer being commercially processed, request that the deer be processed individually, without meat from other animals being added.

There is no processing reimbursement offered if a deer tests positive for CWD. There are no requirements that deer processed at commercial facilities be tested for CWD. The testing is not a food-safety test and, based on current research, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people.

Deer Donated to Share the Harvest

Share the Harvest is committed to providing healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians.

Deer donated to Share the Harvest that were harvested in the seven Missouri counties where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found will be tested for the deer disease. Deer that test positive for CWD will not be used and will be properly disposed of. The seven counties are: Adair, Cole, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, and St. Clair.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been no documented cases of CWD in humans. As a safeguard, the CDC recommends hunters strongly consider having their harvested deer tested for CWD before eating the meat if the animal was harvested from an area where CWD has been found. The CDC also recommends not consuming an animal that tests positive for the disease.

Based on CWD testing MDC has conducted, the disease appears to be relatively rare in the state at this time with only 42 cases found in seven counties out of more than 76,000 deer tested around the state. 

Get More Information