Humans may get infected by ‘Zombie Deer Disease’, warn scientists amid case surge in US

    Humans may get infected by ‘Zombie Deer Disease’, warn scientists amid case surge in US

    Researchers in the United States have issued a warning against the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is present among wildlife, in humans, reported the Independent. 

    The illness, which is also known as ‘zombie deer disease’, leaves animals drooling and confused. It was first detected in November in Yellowstone National Park. 

    The disease was discovered in 800 samples of deer, moose and elk across Wyoming. 

    The CWD has been labelled by the experts as a ”slow-moving disaster” and the governments are being strongly advised to prepare for the chances of its transmission to humans. 

    As per the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease was reported in 31 states in the United States. 

    ”The mad cow disease outbreak in Britain provided an example of how, overnight, things can get crazy when a spillover event happens from, say, livestock to people. We’re talking about the potential of something similar occurring. No one is saying that it’s going to happen, but people need to be prepared,” said CWD researcher Dr Cory Anderson, while speaking to The Guardian.

    He further said that it is a worrying situation since there is no known way to eradicate the disease ”neither from the animals it infects nor the environment it contaminates.”

    As per a report by Fox News, no cases of CWD have been found so far in humans. 

    However, as per some studies, monkeys face the threat of getting infected by chronic wasting disease if they eat infected animal meat or come in contact with the bodily fluids or brains of infected animals. 

    ”These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain,” read the CDC website. 

    What is Zombie Deer Disease?

    The ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ is a fatal and contagious disease illness which affects cervids, which is a group of animals that includes elk, deer, moose, reindeer and caribou. 

    The disease is caused by a malformed protein – known as prion – which gets accumulated in the tissues and the brain and causes behavioural and physiological changes, emaciation and ultimately death. 

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    The disease gets transmitted by direct animal-to-animal contact and also indirectly by getting in contact with infectious particles which are present in soil, vegetation or faeces. 

    Animals can also get an infection if their pasture or feed is contaminated by the prions which are carrying it. 

    As per the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it may take more than a year for the development of symptoms in the deer. 

    It generally starts with the deer losing weight drastically, stumbling around, and eventually losing all the energy. At present, there is no cure or vaccine with CWD.

    (With inputs from agencies)

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