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What they’re saying

June 5, 2016 at 3:23 a.m.
Glenn Wheeler, Newton County sheriff’s office investigator and hunter

Wildlife experts, scientists, hunters and others talk about chronic wasting disease.

Although scientists haven’t seen a human case of the disease, that “may not mean 100 percent there’s no case. It may mean we just didn’t see it. I would urge more caution.” — Qingzhong Kong, associate professor and chronic wasting disease researcher, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.

“If you eat tacos, spaghetti or chili at our house, it’s always been deer meat and will continue to be.” Chronic wasting disease is “always going to be on my mind now, but I don’t plan on changing anything.” — Tim Griffis, medical technician and hunter, Lonoke.

“The evidence is strong that humans aren’t going to get it and our livestock are not going to get it. Those two issues are particularly important for me to convey to the public. … Arkansas is still going to be a deer hunting state.” — Don White Jr., wildlife ecologist, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“We know how to decontaminate infectious agents [such as viruses and bacteria], and the living organism will die. This doesn’t work” in the case of prions, which are not living cells. “You could boil it for whatever time you want, but nothing would happen.” — Claudio Soto, neurology professor and prion researcher, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

“We have provided a lot of food pantries with a lot of meat. We don’t want that to stop. We do 2,000 deer a year. Could you imagine testing all those [for chronic wasting disease]? Obviously we want to do the right thing. We don’t want to put anybody in any kind of health danger at all. … Something like this could shut down a program like ours. I don’t think it will, but we want to be cautious.” — Ronnie Ritter, president, Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Hot Springs.

“You spend so much of your career, so much of your effort, trying to protect against [chronic wasting disease]. Most of the staff thought it would be inevitable” in coming to Arkansas. “But I always hoped that we would defy the odds.” — Cory Gray, deer program manager, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Monticello.

“We always have a lot of venison in the freezer. We depend on it a lot for what we eat.” Deer in his home county of Newton probably “have had [chronic wasting disease] awhile, so I’m not worried about it. I figure I’ve been exposed to it already, and I’m definitely not wasting away yet.” — Glenn Wheeler, Newton County sheriff’s office investigator and hunter, Jasper.

“Take precautions when hunting. Talk to your state wildlife agency. Know where the disease has been found. Avoid eating meat from deer and elk that appear sick or test positive [for chronic wasting disease]. Try to have your animal tested. Some states have that set up. Wear gloves and minimize handling of the brain and spinal cord. We don’t know if the disease transmits to humans.” — Dr. Ryan Maddox, epidemiologist, prion and public health office, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

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