According to a new study by National Institutes of Health, a 5-minute soak in a 40% solution of household bleach decontaminated stainless steel wires coated with CWD prions. The scientists used the wires to model knives and saws that hunters and meat processors use when handling deer and elk, the meat of which could be infected with CWD prions.
The researchers dissected CWD-infected brains from whitetails and mule deer. They tested various bleach concentrations and soak times to determine the most effective combination to eliminate CWD prions.
While the study found that a 40% solution of household bleach can purify stainless steel, it failed to find an effective method to decontaminate CWD-infected solid tissue. Pieces of CWD-infected deer brain retained prion activity even after a 30-minute soak in 100% bleach. Investigators note that bleach fails to penetrate tissue and should be used only as a surface decontaminant for knives, saws and the like.
But that is good news.
After butchering, soak your knives and saws in 40% bleach solution if you hunt in or near a known CWD area. Out of an abundance of caution, it couldn’t hurt for hunters everywhere to decontaminate their tools this way.