Zombie Apocalypse? The “deer zombie” disease could infect humans
Fear rises as experts are warning that the terrifying disease that turns Deer into Zombies could soon spread to humans.
A fatal disease that causes deer to act like zombies is expanding throughout the United States and Canada. Experts fear that it will soon be able to infect humans too.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) or “zombie deer disease” was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado.
According to the Daily Mail, in the last month, it has been reported in 22 states (of the USA) and two Canadian provinces. Its relationship with zombies is due to the symptoms manifested by the affected cervids: drastic weight loss (to the point where the ribs are exposed), lack of coordination, drooling, languor or lack of facial expression, and a loss of fear of people.
This disease is transmitted from one animal to another through prions, proteins that produce neurodegenerative alterations.
But direct contact is not the only form of contagion: infected animals and carcasses can spread prions through plants and soil.
Therefore, hunters are advised to be extremely careful with infected deer and their meat consumption.
So far, no humans have turned into Zombies
No human infections have yet been reported, and scientists have no conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed humans, suggesting that there is a “species barrier” between humans and deer.
But—yeah, there’s always that but—researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University, discovered that macaque monkeys that ate meat from infected deer contracted the disease.
That was the first time it was shown that the disease is spread to a primate through the meat.
“Although most research shows that there is a strong barrier to the species, this recent study showed that the barrier may not be as robust as we thought,” said Matt Dunfee, director of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance in Fort Collins, Colorado.
This is why the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention urges hunters to present any Deer they may have hunted for testing before eating it.
“While extensive disease surveillance in Canada and elsewhere has not provided any direct evidence that CWD has infected humans, the potential for CWD to be transmitted to humans cannot be excluded,” Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) said in an advisory issued this past spring.
“In exercising precaution, HPFB continues to advocate that the most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”
Featured image credit: Zombie Deer by TallHobbit