It may sound like a scene from a horror movie, but cases of "zombie deer disease" are mushrooming in the Midwest and some experts warn that it could pose a threat to humans.
The disease, which is actually called the chronic debilitating disease, affects deer, elk and moose on the loose. The disease erodes the brain, so the animal salivates and acts sluggishly, in a kind of zombie-like state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipates that cases of chronic wasting disease have been reported in at least 24 states, as well as in two Canadian provinces.
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The disease is always fatal. It is thought that it spreads between animals by contact with bodily fluids and contaminated tissues. It can also be transmitted indirectly through environmental exposures, such as contaminated drinking water or food.
"It's a disease we can not get rid of," CBS Chicago Dale Garner, Wildlife Officer at the Iowa Natural Resources Division told CBS. "There is no treatment up to now, so as long as you have deer in the landscape and these continue to spread from one animal to the other, you will probably have more. "
Up to now, there has been no case of chronic debilitating disease, or MDC, in humans. However, some experts have expressed concern that this could pose a threat to people.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, recently warned that the nature of the disease resembled mad cow disease, which can be transmitted by infected cows .
"My best professional judgment, based on my experience in public health … is that it is likely that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the coming years. possible that the number of human cases is substantial and will not be isolated events, "he said, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
Like mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans, chronic wasting is thought to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions, which multiply and damage the brain and spinal cord.
To be as safe as possible and to reduce the potential risk of exposure to chronic wasting disease, the CDC recommends that people not to touch the road and hunters not shoot, handle or eat deer meat. and elk that look sick or act strangely. Hunters must also wear gloves when dressing the deer and have the meat tested before eating.