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Meat from 21 contaminated elk herds entered Canada’s food supply over last 5 years

Elk meat from 21 herds the place persistent losing illness (CWD) was discovered has been launched into Canada’s meals provide during the last 5 years, CBC Information has discovered.

The data comes from an e mail despatched by the Canadian Meals Inspection Company (CFIA) in June to nationwide advocacy group BloodWatch, a non-profit that advocates for a secure blood donation provide and is calling for the federal government to take stronger motion towards the unfold of the illness.

Within the e mail, CFIA says that previous to 2014, all animals on CWD-infected farms had been buried or incinerated.

However since 2014, 21 elk herds the place CWD was confirmed have been slaughtered for meals.

CFIA mentioned it is the company’s place — in addition to Well being Canada’s — that animals identified to be contaminated with CWD are prohibited from getting into the meals provide, however there isn’t any nationwide requirement to have animals examined for the illness.

Solely elk that examined destructive for CWD had been allowed to be offered for meals, a choice some specialists argue might nonetheless put human well being in danger.

The vast majority of circumstances within the final 5 years have been in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Meat from these farms could have been offered domestically or internationally.

CBC Information has reached out to CFIA for affirmation and to ask what number of elk had been offered for human consumption.

This might be a devastating pandemic.– Dr. David Swann

Dr. David Swann mentioned it is “totally unacceptable” that meat from animals in contaminated herds was allowed into Canada’s meals provide.

“They’ve been warned about this for at least a decade-and-a-half from experts in the animal health field,” the medical physician and former chief of Alberta’s Liberal Get together mentioned.

“This is a serious threat to Alberta, to Canada, to our economy, to our agriculture industry, to our wildlife and to human health. It’s just stunning to me that we’ve gone 10 years since the BSE [mad cow] crisis and haven’t recognized an identical problem now with the same kind of illness in deer, and we’re consuming deer without regard to our safety and health.”

Although there isn’t any direct proof to date that CWD has been transmitted to a human, latest analysis signifies the illness could be transmitted to non-human primates and is evolving — just like what occurred with mad cow illness.

Mad cow initially wasn’t believed to be transmissible to people, and was later discovered to be linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob illness, a deadly mind dysfunction in people. 

The CFIA’s web site recommends meat from an contaminated animal not be consumed. Animals that take a look at destructive or are beneath a 12 months outdated from a CWD-infected herd could be offered for meals in Canada — however the CFIA’s web site states a destructive take a look at does not assure an animal is not contaminated.

CBC Information reported on Wednesday that no contaminated meat from deer farms the place CWD was discovered this 12 months was launched for human consumption.

However CFIA solely initially mentioned no constructive elk had been launched for meat from an Alberta elk farm in February — not that no elk had been launched in any respect.

“The big question in my mind should be, ‘Why did you learn nothing from BSE that devastated the agricultural industry?'” Swann mentioned.

He’s one among greater than 30 docs, researchers and advocates who signed a letter in June asking federal ministers to take pressing motion to restrict the illness’s unfold.

Prairie residents, Indigenous individuals most in danger

He mentioned in his opinion, no person ought to eat deer, moose, elk or caribou from japanese Alberta or southern Saskatchewan until the meat has been examined for CWD. 

“It’s easily transmitted. So why the provincial and federal governments are not really taking this seriously is beyond my understanding,” he mentioned.

“We know it’s still theoretical that it could transmit to humans, but if it does and lays dormant for years and years before it shows itself  … this could be a devastating pandemic that we will never get under control, and clearly it will threaten Indigenous people more than others because they really rely on the meat annually.”

Dr. Debbie McKenzie, a College of Alberta researcher, has been learning CWD since 2000.

She mentioned she feels CFIA’s present method is enough and the take a look at is kind of delicate — however what she worries about is hunted meat.

“The greatest risk to human health is from hunters … if they’re hunting in an area where there’s CWD and they don’t get their animals tested, or they get their animals tested and choose to eat a CWD-infected animal. That’s the bigger risk to human health.” 

We are able to see every year the illness is spreading farther and farther.– Rod Dick, with the Alberta Fish and Recreation Affiliation.

McKenzie mentioned that in some elements of Alberta, greater than eight per cent of deer are contaminated — and in elements of the U.S., half of the deer inhabitants is contaminated with CWD. 

Hunter Rod Dick with the Alberta Fish and Recreation Affiliation echoes that concern and is asking the federal government to implement culls to forestall the illness from spreading.

He mentioned of all of the mule deer examined in Alberta final 12 months, 12 per cent examined constructive — the heaviest concentrations adopted the province’s essential rivers, migrating from the Saskatchewan border.

“We can see each year the disease is spreading farther and farther … I know government biologists have a concern that if it crosses Highway 2 and gets to the Foothills, we will never get a handle on it.”

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