CDC Fears ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ Is Spreading, Could Infect Humans

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

WASHINGTON – The Center for Disease Control issued a warning this week about a deadly disease spreading in the United States.

Chronic Wasting Disease, known as the “zombie deer disease,” is an illness that infects the brain, spine and tissue of deer, elk and moose.

The CDC reports the disease starts by infecting prion proteins in the brain, and is passed through contact with contaminated body fluids and tissue.

As of January 2019, there were 251 counties in 24 states with reported CWD in free-ranging cervids. This map is based on the best-available information from multiple sources, including state wildlife agencies and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Afflicted animals show symptoms such as emaciation from forgetting to eat, excessive drooling and stumbling.

There are no treatments or vaccines for CWD, and officials said the disease is fatal.

The CDC has raised the alarm about the potential for CWD to infect humans, as a Jul. 2017 study has shown monkeys who ate infected deer meat contracted the disease.

There is no known case of CWD in a person. However, the CDC has warned the public to test venison or elk meat for CWD before eating it from areas with documented infections.

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