Fatal degenerative neurologic illnesses in men who participated in wild game feasts--Wisconsin, 2002

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Feb 21;52(7):125-7.


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a fatal neurologic disorder in humans. CJD is one of a group of conditions known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), or prion diseases, that are believed to be caused by abnormally configured, host-encoded prion proteins that accumulate in the central nervous tissue. CJD has an annual incidence of approximately 1 case per million population in the United States and occurs in three forms: sporadic, genetically determined, and acquired by infection. In the latter form, the incubation period is measured typically in years. Recent evidence that prion infection can cross the species barrier between humans and cattle has raised increasing public health concerns about the possible transmission to humans of a TSE among deer and elk known as chronic wasting disease (CWD). During 1993-1999, three men who participated in wild game feasts in northern Wisconsin died of degenerative neurologic illnesses. This report documents the investigation of these deaths, which was initiated in August 2002 and which confirmed the death of only one person from CJD. Although no association between CWD and CJD was found, continued surveillance of both diseases remains important to assess the possible risk for CWD transmission to humans.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / etiology
  • Deer*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology
  • Wasting Disease, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Wasting Disease, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Wasting Disease, Chronic / etiology
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology