UW-River Falls

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Last updated:
October 4, 2002

Chronic Wasting Disease, Food Saftey Update Set

The state of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin and Minnesota will be one of the topics for discussion at a day-long forum on topics relevant to food safety, Thursday, Oct. 17, at UW-River Falls.

Also to be discussed are M. paratuberculosis and Johne's Disease, focusing on its possible relationship to Crohn's Disease.

The forum, "Emerging Issues in Food Safety," is sponsored by the animal and food science department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-RF and Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Wisconsin System. The information provided at the forum will be of interest to the general public as well as to scientists and technical people, according to Food Science Professor Purnendu Vasavada, who is coordinator for the forum. Vasavada also serves as food safety and microbiology specialist for UW-Cooperative Extension.

"We will discuss the latest approach to detection and control strategies for emerging issues such as CWD, both nationally and internationally. CWD is not just a local problem; it is a problem all over the world, though we don't know yet to what extent," said Vasavada. "It is a moving target."

"We also know that it hasn't been determined for sure whether CWD is transmittable to humans. It hasn't been proven that it is transmittable, but it hasn't been disproven, either. What we have to do is minimize the risk and control the problem to the extent that we can."

Johne's Disease, a wasting disease in cows not to be confused with Mad Cow Disease, is under scrutiny now, Vasavada said, since recent developments suggest the organism causing Johne's Disease may also be involved in causing Crohn's Disease in humans. These are topics that are relevant to everyone.

Keynote speaker for the forum is Will Hueston from the University of Minnesota, speaking on "Chronic Wasting Disease and Prion Diseases: Problems and Prospects," focusing on the science of the diseases as well as the current state of CWD in Minnesota.

Wisconsin state veterinarian Clarence Sirocky will provide an update on CWD in Wisconsin. Irene Grant, a scientist from the U.K., will present information on Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in milk: the U.K. situation.

The program will also feature other national speakers from Minnesota, California and Illinois and international speakers from New Zealand and Canada.

Vasavada will wrap up the forum with a presentation titled, "Emerging Issues in Food Safety: Discussion."

The forum will open at 9 a.m. in Room 200 of the Agricultural Science Building, and it will adjourn at 4 p.m. There is $25 fee, and lunch is included. For more information or to register for the forum, contact Doreen Cegielski at 715/425-3150 or e-mail doreen.m.cegielski@uwrf.edu.

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