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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) affects deer and belongs to a group of similar diseases such as the mad cow disease. In the US, CWD affects mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, caribou, and their domesticated equivalent, reindeer. Experimental transmission in laboratories proved that the disease is capable of infecting other species, such as squirrel monkeys and genetically-modified mice.

The cause of CWD is believed to be a prion, which is a misfolded form of a normal protein most commonly found in the nervous system. The misfolded form can then convert normally folded prion proteins. That’s how the disease spreads.

Most cases of CWD occur in adult animals and the disease is progressive and always fatal. First, the infected animal will struggle to move. It will lose weight over time because it won’t be able to feed. Weight loss is one of the most common symptoms. Behavioural changes also happen in the majority of cases. This includes limited interactions with other animals, lowering of the head, tremors, repetitive walking in set patterns and nervousness. Excessive salivation and teeth grinding are also observed. Most deer show increased drinking and urination. Disease spreads though bodily fluids.


So far, there is no evidence that the disease could spread to humans, even those regularly eating venison, but the CWD remains a subject of public health surveillance. Could it possibly spread to us? Whether or not it could, it is important that we keep the UK free of the disease. If you have been hunting in a country where CWD is found, you are advised not to bring back any clothing or kit used while hunting there. I know it might seem excessive, but I think we should all do whatever we can to stop the spread of such a dangerous disease.

Cody Hamilton

Cody Hamilton

Young Shot Journalist

Hello, my names Cody and I’m 14 and live in South Yorkshire. First I would like to thank my Dad for leading me on to shooting. I’m part of a shooting syndicate at Braithwell were I have met many amazing people in the past five years. I would like to say thank you to the gamekeeper Anthony Harrison for running the shoot and to everyone involved. I love every aspect of shooting, right down to cleaning the birds and cooking what we shoot. However, my favourite part is watching the dogs work as I love to see them find and pick up birds. I’ve been looking for a chance to get involved with BASC ever since becoming a member, amazingly I was on the Young Shots page in 2016 and now I wrote an article which got published on the website. I hope you enjoy the article!

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