NADeFA Commends Research Identifying Human’s Immunity to CWD

CANTON, Ohio — The North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA), the nation’s leading voice for the cervid industry, commends new University of California research that validates the long-standing industry position that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is not a threat to humans.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization have for years publicly stated there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk for humans and there has never been a causal link to CWD in humans from eating venison. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have now validated those statements and may have also identified the structure in the protein that actually prevents CWD in humans.

An infectious disease which causes normal prions to misfold, CWD affects North American elk and deer. In the study, published Feb. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers used a mouse model that expressed an altered form of the normal human prion protein and determined why the human proteins are not corrupted when exposed to the elk prions. Christina Sigurdson, DVM, PhD, associate professor at UC San Diego and UC Davis and senior author of the study, explained they “suspected that a loop in the human prion protein structure may block the elk prions from binding.”

“There has never been a single known case of CWD being transmitted to humans, and now we have scientific evidence that identifies the possible reason why,” says Shawn Schafer, executive director of NADeFA. “Since CWD was discovered in a wild elk more than 30 years ago, there have been so-called experts and anti-hunting groups that have used CWD to generate fear among hunters and the general public. We’re grateful that this new research shines the light of truth on this issue and clearly demonstrates, through independent scientific analysis, that CWD is not a threat to humans.”

Founded in 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.

For more information about NADeFA programs and membership, call 330.454.3944 or visit

Since 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has worked to establish and promote deer farming as an agricultural pursuit and to facilitate education on breeding, handling and deer farm management. For more information on the North American Deer Farmers Association, call 330.454.3944 or visit