Michael Osterholm, director for UM's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, tracked the emergence of mad-cow disease, which is also spread by prions. He said at the hearing, "It is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead. It is possible that number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events." He also noted that public-health officials and the beef industry didn't believe mad-cow disease could spread to humans until research confirmed it in 1996.
Canadian researchers found that some macaque monkeys that ate CWD-infected meat developed neurological disorders, but a different group of researchers could not replicate those results in another experiment. Still, the Canadian government was concerned enough to issue an advisory about eating meat from animals in the deer family, Orrick reports.
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend against eating CWD-infected deer, but without anything conclusive, wildlife agencies throughout America say the decision is a personal choice, and some hunters do eat the meat," Orrick reports.