Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I think I'll be avoiding New York State venison

Through unlucky circumstance, tissue samples from a deer that one farmer donated for the banquet tested positive for chronic wasting disease, and the results were discovered after the meat had been eaten at the banquet. It is the deer version of mad cow disease, and the first documented case in New York.

Though people have become ill with mad cow disease from eating infected beef, no human is known to have become ill by eating infected venison.

Not yet anyway. Prion diseases are extremely odd in that they are spread by proteins with no nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) component. This makes them completely unlike any other infectious illness. They seem to work by causing misfolding of homologous human proteins and may be one reason cannibalism is nearly universally frowned upon.

As of now, there is no treatment for prion diseases.


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