Zombie Deer Disease: CDC Fears It Could Infect Humans

What is being called "Zombie deer disease" is actually the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that's been know to infect deer and elk since the 1960s. Sadly, the disease causes infected animals to become emaciation because they literally forget to eat, they also stumble and drool excessively once the disease takes hold. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that it also can make them more aggressive and less afraid of human contact.

The disease begins infecting proteins in the brain and is passed through contact with contaminated bodily fluids and tissue. There are no treatments or vaccines and the disease is always fatal but unfortunately symptoms don't manifest until the very late stages so an animal can carry the disease for two years before displaying obvious signs of infection. That's where the danger lies for humans. Because the animals may not look like there is anything wrong with them, hunters could end up killing and consuming an infected animal, thus ingesting and possibly contracting the disease.

Currently there are no known cases of CWD in humans but the CDC is warning the public to test venison and elk meet for the illness before consuming it.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, stated "It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead," Osterholm said. "It’s possible the number of human cases will be substantial, and will not be isolated events."

Review a list of the 24 states that have confirmed an outbreak of the disease.

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