Experts told lawmakers in a state Capitol that chronic waste disease should be treated as a public health problem and the said human cases are likely to be "documented in the years to come."
The disease, sometimes referred to as CWD, causes infected animals to stumble, toss, and become aggressive towards people they once feared. It has been called "zombie deer" disease because once infected, the deer is losing weight and becoming listless, among other strange behaviors. It has been said that it is impossible for hunters to tell when a deer has the CWD. The neurological disease affects white-tailed deer, mule, moose and moose.
However, the spookiest thing about it is not the animal's resemblance to zombies ̵
To be clear, no cases of chronic wasting disease have been reported in humans, says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Still, Osterholm said that it is something to be careful about ahead. Researchers do not want the disease to spread to or affect humans, he said in the Minnesota State Capitol last week.
"It is likely that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years to come," Osterholm said in comments published by USA Today. "It is possible that the number of human cases will be significant and will not be isolated events."
CWD is fatal and has affected the deer population in at least 24 states and two Canadian provinces (scroll down to the bottom for a complete list).
What to do about it
There are no vaccines or treatments available at this time. CWD is spread from animal to animal and also through contaminated drinking water or food, according to published reports.
A few states have begun to work on preventive measures to combat the spread of the disease. In North Carolina, anyone who transports animals from the deer family – as in carcasses – must enter the state, follow processing and packaging regulations. In Indiana, the state has monitored cases, although testing is not mandatory, USA Today reported.
In some Indiana counties, government officials are asking hunters to have their harvested deer tested for the disease.
Other Things to Know
"Meanwhile, if you hunt (or eat meat that others have hunted for) in one of the infected areas, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) doesn't necessarily mean you can't eat. your game, "read the popular science report. "They recommend that you do not eat animals that look diseased or odd and minimize touching the organs as much as possible (especially the brain and spinal cord). In some states, you can also have the meat tested by contacting your local wildlife authority. It is up to you to decide whether the risk is worth it.
CWD, for what it's worth, isn't brand new. It was first discovered in 1967.
Where is it found?
Depending on where you get your information, CWD is either in 24 or 25 US states. Here is a list from a Texas Parks and Wildlife fact sheet:
Graham Media Group 2019