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“Zombie Deer Disease” Spreading Across The United States And Canada

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 states have reported Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) -also called “Zombie Deer Disease” – in free-ranging deer, elk and moose as of January.

Chronic Wasting Disease essentially turns deer and other wildlife into zombies, and could potentially spread to humans.

NBC News Affiliate NEWS4SA reports: ” The illness attacks the brain, spinal cord,and other tissues in deer, elk and moose. Ultimately before CWD kills the animal, they first start to lose weight rapidly. Additionally, their coordination becomes unbalanced, and they may become aggressive. “

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains how CWD is transmitted:

“Scientists believe CWD proteins (prions) likely spread between animals through body fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine, either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food or water. Once introduced into an area or farm, the CWD protein is contagious within deer and elk populations and can spread quickly. Experts believe CWD prions can remain in the environment for a long time, so other animals can contract CWD from the environment even after an infected deer or elk has died.”

The CDC website claims while there are no active reports of infected humans, the potential risk is still a major concern:

“To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

” Additional studies are under way to identify if any prion diseases could be occurring at a higher rate in people who are at increased risk for contact with potentially CWD-infected deer or elk meat. Because of the long time it takes before any symptoms of disease appear, scientists expect the study to take many years before they will determine what the risk, if any, of CWD is to people. “- Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The Center for Disease Control released a map of the U.S. that indicates where infected animals have been reported:

Chronic Wasting Disease Among Free-Ranging Cervids by County, United States, January 2019 – Courtesy: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC website also has an extensive list (by state) where animals infected with CWD have been reported: https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/occurrence.html

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