Scientists Fear “Zombie Deer Disease” Could Mutate & Spread To Humans

Deer CWD Yellowstone
Montana FWD

You thought the chaos around the Rona was bad? Wait until zombie deer start attacking…

“Zombie Deer Disease” is quite concerning in its own right, and some scientists now fear that the condition could mutate and spread to humans. Of course, this scary news is still very speculative, but it’s not the kind of speculation that’s fun to hear about. You’d rather hear about scientists speculating on a new type of dolphin that was discovered, or a planet way off in space that could be plentiful with chocolate.

Instead, scientists are somewhat concerned that chronic wasting disease (CWD), which has impacted deer, elk and moose population in the 33 of the United States, could evolve and start impacting humans, similar to the way that Mad Cow mutated with a variant that can infect humans.

As of right now, the disease is 100% fatal (to deer), and according to the New York State Department of Health, CWD “damages portions of the brain and typically causes progressive loss of body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation and death.” CWD made headlines late last year when Yellowstone National Park announced that it had its first confirmed case of the debilitating neurological disease.

Health officials are concerned because there’s no known cure or vaccine that has been developed for CWD, which has been around since the 1960s.

An infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota spoke about that fear when he talked to KFF Health News:

“The bottom-line message is we are quite unprepared. If we saw a spillover right now, we would be in free fall. There are no contingency plans for what to do or how to follow up.”

If this is all sounding like the beginning of a zombie apocalypse movie, there is somewhat of a silver lining to all of this news (for now). As of right now, there are no confirmed cases in humans, even though it is estimated that over 10,000 infected deer are consumed throughout the year.

Scientist believe that if CWD were to make the jump from deer to humans, it would be through venison consumption, similar to the way that scientists believe humans can get a version of Mad Cow Disease from infected beef called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Although, the disease is extremely rare, not contagious (unless you eat an infected person?), and might not entirely be connected to cattle in every case.

Here is to hoping that we never have to worry about all of that though, and if we ever do, I have faith in our nation’s deer hunters to spring into action in order to keep us safe and sound.

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