Chronic wasting disease is sometimes called “zombie deer disease”, or affected deer may be called “zombie deer” due to the neurological signs of the disease, including weight loss, lack of coordination, listlessness and drooling.
The disease primarily affects free-ranging deer, elk and moose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although there have been no infections in humans, scientists have warned that the disease is a “slow disaster” for humans.
Here’s where “zombie deer disease” has been reported so far:
Reports on chronic wasting disease in the United States and abroad
Chronic wasting disease has been found in animal populations in at least 31 U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Earlier this month, Kentucky confirmed a case of CWD when officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that the disease had been detected in a 2-year-old white-tailed deer captured by a hunter in November.
CWD has also been found in three Canadian provinces.
Outside of North America, chronic wasting disease has been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway, Finland, and Sweden, and a few imported cases have been reported in South Korea.
How is the disease spread?
The disease may have an incubation period of more than a year and signs of the disease may develop slowly.
Scientists believe the disease is spread through contact with contaminated body fluids and tissues, or through the environment, including drinking water and food, according to the CDC.
CWD was first discovered in Colorado in 1967, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has since spread to a number of states and countries around the world. No infections have been reported in humans, although research suggests the disease is more transmissible to humans from animals than previously thought.
What you need to know about CWD:“Zombie deer” disease has been reported in more than half of the United States
Can zombie deer disease spread to humans?
Although there have been no infections in humans, some scientists are sounding the alarm that governments are preparing for the risk of CWD spreading.
Dr Cory Anderson, co-program director at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), told the Guardian: “The outbreak of mad cow disease in Britain provided an example of how , overnight, things can get crazy when a spillover event happens, say, from livestock to people. »
Anderson said it’s important to be prepared in case the disease spreads to humans. “We’re talking about the possibility of something similar happening. No one is saying it’s definitely going to happen, but it’s important that people are prepared,” he added.
Contributor: Emily DeLetter, USA TODAY
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