The Outbreak of Zombie Deer Disease: What You Need to Know

The Outbreak of Zombie Deer Disease: What You Need to Know

If you’re a deer hunter or simply a wildlife enthusiast, then you might have heard of the recent outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer populations. This deadly disease is currently spreading rapidly, affecting large areas of the USA and Canada. Somewhat gruesomely, CWD is also called the “Zombie Deer” disease, due to its similarity to the Zombie apocalypse – except unfortunately, this disease is very real.

What is CWD?

CWD is a paralytic, degenerative neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. This disease is caused by prions, a kind of protein that can change shape and disrupt brain function. CWD is spread from deer to deer through direct contact with infected prions, which can be found in saliva, feces, and urine. Sadly, once an animal is infected with CWD, there’s no known cure – the disease eventually results in death.

Why is CWD Such a Big Problem?

One of the primary reasons CWD is so alarming is that it spreads rapidly through deer populations and over large distances, both horizontally and vertically. Since the prions that cause the disease are found in body fluids and feces of infected animals, other healthy animals can become infected by consuming contaminated grass, soil, or water. Additionally, infected animals tend to become disoriented, excessively thin, and lethargic, which makes them easy targets for predators. In nearly all cases of CWD infection, the infected animal dies at some point.

How Does CWD Affect Humans?

While it’s true that there have been no reported cases of CWD being transmitted to humans, scientists and doctors worry that it’s just a matter of time. Research already shows that monkeys and other primates can contract the disease, which suggests that humans may also be susceptible. Although no case of CWD in humans yet exists, the disease is considered dangerous and should be taken seriously.

What Can You Do to Prevent CWD?

There’s no known cure for CWD, which makes prevention and early detection the best tools for combating its spread. If you’re a hunter, make sure not to consume meat from deer that have been flagged as potentially infected. Always wear gloves while processing deer, and avoid handling brains, spinal cord, or other infected organs that may contain prions. Additionally, hunters should always dispose of carcasses in a responsible, safe manner, so as not to spread the disease further.

The Bottom Line

Chronic Wasting Disease is a real problem for deer populations and potentially humans. While there isn’t a cure or vaccine for the disease, early detection and prevention are key for controlling its spread. As with any disease, it’s best to stay informed about the latest news and developments regarding CWD. Stay safe and take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family, and local wildlife from this deadly disease.

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