Zombie Deer Disease: Is it a Threat to Humans?

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In the serene expanses of the American wilderness, a hidden menace may be lurking among the deer, elk, and moose populations.  Chronic wasting disease (CWD), more commonly known as the “zombie deer disease” is a type of prion disease with bizarre symptoms.

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Zombie Deer Disease

Wildlife that develops CWD experience a haunting transformation. Its unwitting hosts suffer dramatic weight loss, cognitive decline, memory loss and balance issues. The animals literally transform into zombies similar to horror movies featuring the “undead.”

First surfacing in the 1990s in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, chronic wasting disease has since been identified in free-range wildlife in at least 32 states according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC describes prion disease as a progressive, always fatal, neurodegenerative disorder. It occurs when the prion proteins are malformed creating a rapid progression of the symptoms.

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