First partially successful vaccine developed against prion disease in deer

Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine have developed a weakly successful vaccine against Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer[1]. CWD is a prion disease which is common in cervids and can cause progressive, irreversible degeneration and death. Though I could not locate any evidence of this disease making the species jump like bovine spongiform encephalitis did, the authors contend that given the large numbers of deer and elk suffering from this disease, there is a possible risk for human infection as well.

amy_deer(3)In this study, the investigators comment in the abstract:

In the current study, white-tailed deer were orally inoculated with attenuated Salmonella expressing PrP, while control deer were orally inoculated with vehicle attenuated Salmonella. Once a mucosal response was established, the vaccinated animals were boosted orally and locally by application of polymerized recombinant PrP onto the tonsils and rectal mucosa. The vaccinated and control animals were then challenged orally with CWD-infected brain homogenate. Three years post CWD oral challenge all control deer developed clinical CWD (median survival 602 days), while among the vaccinated there was a significant prolongation of the incubation period (median survival 909 days; p = 0.012 by Weibull regression analysis) and one deer has remained CWD free both clinically and by RAMALT and tonsil biopsies. This negative vaccinate has the highest titers of IgA in saliva and systemic IgG against PrP. Western blots showed that immunoglobulins from this vaccinate react to PrPCWD. We document the first partially successful vaccination for a prion disease in a species naturally at risk.


1.Goñi, F., Mathiason, C., Yim, L., Wong, K., Hayes-Klug, J., Nalls, A., Peyser, D., Estevez, V., Denkers, N., Xu, J., Osborn, D., Miller, K., Warren, R., Brown, D., Chabalgoity, J., Hoover, E., & Wisniewski, T. (2015). Mucosal immunization with an attenuated Salmonella vaccine partially protects white-tailed deer from chronic wasting disease Vaccine, 33 (5), 726-733 DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.11.035

Is that chronic wasting disease or you just happy to hang me in the basement; lawmakers call on USDA to get tough on trophy deer industry

Six members of Congress are urging federal agricultural officials to ban the interstate movement of captive deer, saying a national industry that breeds bucks to be shot as trophies in “canned” hunts isn’t worth the disease risks.

deer.cwd.2In a letter sent Friday to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and top USDA officials, the six Democrats cited an Indianapolis Star investigation this spring that uncovered case after case linking the captive deer industry to the spread of various diseases.

“Considering USDA’s limited resources, it would be prudent for the agency to adopt a precautionary approach, consistent with its regulatory authority, and prohibit interstate transport of captive-bred cervids in order to quell the burgeoning threats the inhumane canned-hunting industry poses to the health of livestock, native wildlife and even humans,” the letter says. “Cervid” is the scientific name for deer.

At least 21 states already prohibit the importation of certain species of captive deer, fearing imported animals could infect wild herds with chronic wasting disease, an always-fatal deer disease similar to mad cow.

CWD has not been found in Indiana, which has about 400 deer farms, many of which ship deer in and out of the state.

amy_deer(3)The Star’s investigation revealed that the 10,000 deer and elk farmers in the U.S. are shipping an unprecedented number of deer and elk across state lines to supply the burgeoning high-fence hunting industry. Deer and elk are bred for abnormally large antlers, some bigger than the established world record for wild animals. Top breeding stock can fetch six-figure prices.

The Star’s investigation revealed that bovine tuberculosis has been found on 50 captive deer and elk herds, and researchers say they believe that in at least four instances the disease jumped from captive deer and elk to cattle. One such case was in Indiana.

The Star’s investigation also uncovered circumstantial evidence that the industry may have helped accelerate the spread of CWD, which has been found in 22 states.

Park Service culls deer in DC, helps fill bellies

Amy ate a lot of deer growing up in Minnesota, Montana and Missouri.

I never developed much of a taste for it.

Bambi1Here, they cull kangeroos.

According to the N.Y. Times, the government sharpshooters worked so efficiently in the dead of the night in Rock Creek Park that by the end of this year’s short killing season, they had shot 106 white-tailed deer.

Make that 3,300 pounds of local venison turned into meatloaf, burgers and more for the surprised directors of homeless shelters and other charities across the capital.

Despite local protesters who say the killings are cruel, the goal remains culling the deer population down to no more than 20 deer per square mile from 77 per square mile counted last fall. Armed with small-caliber rifles, professional sharpshooters from the Department of Agriculture first started killing deer in a one-night operation in March last year. The herd thinning quietly picked up again over five nights from January to March this year.

Now, to help the homeless and to make sure that the dead deer are not simply discarded — an action that would further outrage local residents — the National Park Service has the meat inspected and processed and then gives it to D.C. Central Kitchen. Using donated ingredients, the kitchen cooks and distributes 5,000 meals a day to community centers and shelters.

“It would be really sad if the National Park Service had to kill all these deer and throw the meat away,” said Paul Day, a spokesman for D.C. Central Kitchen.

Arkansas couple arrested for using deer meat at tamale stand

A White County couple was arrested Thursday after reportedly illegally using deer meat in their tamales.

A press release from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stated that wildlife officers arrested the couple on several wildlife violations. The pair allegedly used wild animals, such as deer, to make tamales in their roadside stand.

Fred Thomas Atkins III, 49 and his wife Betty Louise Williams, 28, were arrested at their tamale stand on Arkansas Highway 16 between Searcy and Pangburn. AGFC said the deer.tamalecouple was issued citations for several game violations including buying and selling wildlife. If convicted, Atkins and Williams would face fines up to $5,000 on each count and up to a year in jail. The two were taken to the White County Detention Center in Searcy.

The six-week investigation targeted the couple after undercover wildlife officers sold several deer to Atkins. The wildlife officers also purchased tamales suspected of being made with deer meat. Officers from the White County Sheriff’s Office and investigators with the Central Arkansas Drug Task Force, along with the AGFC, were involved in the investigation.

Capt. Bill Howell of the AGFC said the individuals were gathering as many illegal deer as they could get. “It was not only the wildlife violations that we were concerned about, but also the health concerns. It was a great team effort by several agencies to protect Arkansas’s valuable natural resources and allow the public to safely enjoy them,” Howell said.

Maybe check with health before? Louisiana hunters outraged as officials destroy 1,600 pounds of venison donated to homeless shelter

Louisiana hunters are outraged after health officials forced them to destroy 1,600 pounds of donated venison — about $8,000 worth — that was meant for the state’s homeless shelters.

The Washington Times reported last week the Department of Health and Hospitals ordered the staff at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission to throw deer.hunterthe deer meat into garbage bins and douse it with chlorine bleach so other animals would not eat it.

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” a health department official told Fox News in an email. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

Hunters statewide are furious over the wasted manpower and carnage put into the effort.

“That’s a mild understatement,” Richard Campbell, one of the founders of Hunters for the Hungry, told Fox. “Hunters are going nuts over it. It’s created an outrage across our state and even over into Mississippi.”

State Rep. Jeff Thompson said he is meeting with state lawmakers to make sure the rules are changed.

“As a hunter and somebody who has personally donated deer to this program, I’m outraged and very concerned,” he told Fox. “You hear about these stories anywhere and it’s a concern — but when it happens in your own backyard, it’s insulting.”

Who uses girlfriend as gunrest? Did illegal deer meat make its way to Jersey restaurants?

Oh, Jersey.

According to, authorities said they could not find any evidence that two New Jersey restaurants illegally purchased deer meat from a chris.walken.deer.hunterman accused of forcing his girlfriend to hunt while he used her head as a gunrest.

A Belmar restaurant and a Raritan restaurant were mentioned in a criminal complaint against Mark N. Jarema, who was charged in Pennsylvania for allegedly forcing his then-girlfriend to help him illegally hunt, among other things.

The complaint also alleged Jarema sold the deer meat to the two restaurants.

“We did not file any charges against any restaurants,” said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Haina. “We were involved in providing information to the game commission, but we were not able to prove any connection to purchases or the sale.”

The Northeast Game Commission investigated Jarema after his girlfriend accused him of stealing a .30-06 caliber rifle from her mother’s house and using it to fire 30 shots, killing six to 10 deer before driving back to her mother’s house with three of the dead deer in 2010.

In her criminal complaint, the girlfriend said Jarema would sometimes use her head as a gun rest to steady the rifle.

The girlfriend said Jarema processed the deer in her mother’s basement on Oct. 24, and forced her to take pictures of him with the deer in various poses. Some of the poses show Jarema holding up the deer in his arms, some with beer bottles shoved in the deer’s mouths, according to the complaint. Others show the deer being “hung, skinned and and cut up for sale,” according to the complaint.

On Oct. 26, the girlfriend said, Jarema loaded the deer into the truck and had her drive him to the restaurant in Belmar; then to the restaurant in Raritan; and then to an auto garage in Bridgewater.

Mexican restaurant closed after deer stored in KC freezer

The Kansas City Health Department has closed a westside restaurant after a health inspector found a fully intact dead buck inside a basement freezer.

Los Alamos Market and Cocina at 1667 Summit St. cannot reopen until the restaurant owner meets with health inspectors to work out concerns.

Owner Agustin Juarez told KCTV5’s Emily Rittman that a customer on Thursday asked to put a deer in the basement freezer for a few hours. By Friday, the customer had not picked up the deer but a health inspector came by at 12:45 p.m. Friday and undertook a 2 1/2 hour inspection.

An employee told the health inspector that ice was normally stored inside that freezer.

Juarez said he is working to prove the deer was killed legally and was not contaminated. He said the deer will go to a processor.

He stressed that the dead deer never came in contact with food.
FOX5 Vegas – KVVU

Kentucky restaurant shut down after road kill deer found in kitchen

WYMT reports a Chinese restaurant was forced to shut its doors after getting caught with a dead deer in the kitchen.

It happened Thursday afternoon at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg.

“We were actually joking about the, you know, the whole Chinese restaurant. You know some rumors that you hear,” says Katie Hopkins, a customer of the Red Flower restaurant.

But, Hopkins and her friends never imaged what would happen next, after finishing up a buffet lunch.

“Two of the workers came in wheeling a garbage can and they had a box sitting on top of it. And hanging out of the garbage can, they were trying to be real quick with it. So that nobody could see it. But there was like a tail, and a foot and leg. Sticking out of the garbage can and they wheeled it straight back into the kitchen,” adds Hopkins.

Hopkins immediately called the health department to describe what she saw, “Many people eat there. A lot of locals eat there on lunch breaks and stuff. It was very disturbing. There was actually a blood trail that they were mopping up behind the garbage can.”

Paul Lawson, the environmental health inspector in Whitley County says this is the craziest thing he’s ever seen.

After he arrived at the Chinese restaurant on south highway 25 West, he says the complaints proved to be true after finding roadkill in the restaurants kitchen.

Lawson tells us that the owner’s son admitted to picking up a dead deer off the side of I-75 north in Williamsburg.

This prompted the health department to immediately shut down business.

“They said they didn’t know that they weren’t allowed to. So that makes me concerned. But maybe thy could have before. They didn’t admit to doing it before,” says Lawson.

Lawson tells us that the restaurant can reopen if they pass a secondary health inspection, proving that they have washed, rinsed, and sanitized the restaurant after having roadkill inside.

The restaurant owner tells the health department that he wasn’t going to serve the road kill to customers, but instead to his family.

Venison sushi salmonella case in Hawai`i

A bad case of salmonella poisoning suffered by a 65-year old Honolulu who ate raw venison sushi is the first documented case of its kind in Hawai`i and offers a reminder to physicians (and their patients) that there are many potential local sources of foodborne illness.

In the case, reported in the new edition of the Hawai`i Journal of Medicine and Public Health, the source of the illness is identified as venison, or deer meat, from the island of Lana`i.

A University of Hawai`i at M?noa press release quotes the article as saying, “In Hawai‘i, it has long been known that certain animals and animal products have a higher propensity to carry salmonella, particularly Hawaiian hogs and chickens. However, a search of the literature did not find data to implicate the local deer population as a source for foodborne illness.”

“The ethnic and cultural diversity of Hawai`i affords a cuisine with ample opportunities to eat raw or undercooked food, including sushi, ceviche, oysters, and clams,” wrote the researchers. “Game meat, including deer on Lana`i, is readily available to hunters. Clinicians in Hawai`i should remain alert and aware of the potential local sources of food borne illness. The deer population of Hawai‘i can potentially harbor foodborne pathogens. All persons should be reminded to thoroughly cook game meat and always adhere to safe food handling practices.”