Zombie Deer Disease: Fatal Brain Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) poses a significant threat to deer populations. This prion disease, found in North America and beyond, leads to devastating symptoms like weight loss and neurologic impairment. With no known cure, understanding and implementing effective wildlife management strategies are crucial to mitigating the impact of this pervasive and lethal disease.
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A prion (mutated protein) disease called chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects moose, elk, reindeer, sika deer, and deer. common throughout North America, which includes South Korea, Norway, the United States, and Canada. After a year, the disease’s subtle nature becomes apparent, and sadly, there are no known cures or vaccines, so it is unavoidably fatal. 

CWD is Fatal & Contagious

According to a Fox News report, no human cases of CWD have been discovered to date. However, some research indicates that monkeys may be at risk of contracting chronic wasting disease if they consume animal meat contaminated with the disease or come into contact with the bodily fluids or brains of infected animals.


How it Spreads

Animals can contract the disease directly from one another or indirectly through coming into contact with infectious particles found in feces, vegetation, or soil.

Infections can also spread to animals if the prions that carry the infection contaminate their pasture or feed.

Jumping the species barrier

It has an impact on big game animals, but it also has the potential to cross species boundaries. Moose, elk, and deer can spread the disease to humans, other animals, birds, and even livestock.

Essential Precautions this hunting season

The CDC has recommended avoiding eating meat that has CWDs by listing a number of precautions, including:

  1. Test-driven prey prior to consumption of flesh.
  2. Steer clear of “elk and deer that appear sick, act strangely, or are found dead.”
  3. When extracting the internal organs of a hunted deer, wear rubber or latex gloves to minimize contact with the brain and spinal cord tissue.
  4. When handling deer meat, avoid using regular kitchen knives or utensils.
  5. Testing necessitates tissue samples from deep within the brain, so it is only possible to find out if a deer is infected after it has been killed.
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CWD Symptoms

A year after getting infected, animals start showing symptoms

  • dementia
  • wobbliness
  • drooling
  • aggression
  • neurologic symptoms
  • drastic weight loss and eventual death

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