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CDC Warns Against Exposure to 'Mad Cow'-Like Brain Diseases
Date:5/23/2011

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The investigators found that 29.5 percent of those polled traveled to at least one of the nine countries where bovine spongiform encephalopathy was widespread, with the United Kingdom being the most common destination (19.4 percent of survey participants). Travelers to the United Kingdom were also more likely to stay longer. In fact, nearly one-quarter remained in the country for at least a month.

Moreover, 18.5 percent of those polled hunted for deer and 1.2 percent hunted for elk in regions known for chronic wasting disease. Venison was eaten by 67.4 percent of those surveyed. Of those who ate deer meat, 88.6 percent got it from the wild.

Based on these findings, the CDC researchers concluded that hunters in these areas should protect themselves from exposure to chronic wasting disease by taking the following steps: do not eat meat from sickly deer or elk; don't eat brain or spinal cord tissues; minimize the handling of brain and spinal cord tissues; and wear gloves when field-dressing carcasses.

"The 2006-2007 FoodNet population survey provides useful information should foodborne prion infection become an increasing public health concern in the future. The data presented describe the prevalence of important behaviors and their associations with demographic characteristics. Surveillance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, chronic wasting disease and human prion diseases are critical aspects of addressing the burden of these diseases in animal populations and how that may relate to human health," Abrams concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information on prion diseases.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, news release, May 23, 2011


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