Experts Warn Chronic Wasting Disease In Deer Could Spread To Humans

The “zombie” disease could take years to appear in people.

chronic wasting disease elk deer moose
Chronic wasting disease could spread to humans. (Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver Post via Getty Images

A deadly disease is spreading across the country among moose, elk, and deer. Now experts warn the “zombie” infection known as chronic wasting disease (CWD), could spread to humans.

The fatal disease affects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues in animals.

The CDC says 24 states have reported cases of the zombie deer disease, according to HuffPost

There are no treatments for the chronic wasting disease, which produces zombie-like symptoms such as drastic weight loss and stumbling, loss of coordination, drooling, lack of fear of humans, and aggression.

There have yet to be any confirmed animal to human transmissions but experts warn you could contract the disease through bodily fluids like saliva, blood or urine, and feces by both indirect and direct contact with the infected and/or the surrounding environment.

“It is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” Michael Osterholm, the director for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease and Research Prevention, told Minnesota lawmakers on Thursday. “It is possible that (the) number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events.”

Lab studies have shown that chronic wasting disease’s mutated protein is actually capable of infecting animals that carry human genes like monkeys, macaques, and lab mice.

The CDC says there is no strong evidence that CDW could or has occurred in humans, but stresses the importance of learning more about the disease: “These experimental studies raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposures to CWD.”

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