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Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, also known as “zombie deer disease,” has been found in several North American deer populations. Wyoming is home to more than 800 endangered animals, with the highest numbers in deer, elk, and moose. The conversation.

As of 2011 Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCWD was first identified in captive deer in Colorado in the late 1960s and in wild deer in 1981. It has since spread to 31 states across the US and spread across all states.

Even states without robust animal surveillance systems may have undetected CWD cases. Once established, CWD can persist in the area for a long time, and the affected areas are expected to grow further.

What happens to infected animals?

b Evaluation, published in Annual Reviews, CWD is a prion disease. Prions are abnormal proteins that cause nerve damage by misfolding healthy brain proteins. This type of damage causes dehydration, emaciation, weight loss, stumbling and dull vision.

It may be more than a year before an infected animal shows symptoms. Animals of any age can contract CWD, and some may die without showing symptoms. Unfortunately, CWD is fatal to animals and there are currently no cures or vaccines CDC.

Researchers think CWD prions are passed between animals through bodily fluids such as feces, saliva, blood, or feces. This happens when animals directly touch or come into contact with contaminated soil, food or water. Once CWD enters an area or farm, it can spread rapidly among deer and elk populations CDC.

What are the potential risks to human health?

There are currently no confirmed cases of CWD in humans. However, many prion diseases have spread between animals and humans. For example, “mad cow disease” has killed millions of cattle and 178 people since 1995. The conversation.

Moreover, in his research JNeurosciCWD has been found to infect human cells under laboratory conditions.

Scientists now believe that CWD is transmitted to humans by eating infected deer CDC.

Identifying and diagnosing prion diseases in humans is challenging. Unlike common infectious agents, prions do not activate the immune system, making them difficult to detect using standard methods. This makes it difficult to intervene early and catch diseases The conversation.

What are the ecological and economic risks?

The spread of CWD poses risks beyond health concerns. Deer hunting is not only a popular activity, but also an important source of food and income. CWD can disrupt this balance, affecting deer populations and food security. CWD also affects ecosystems beyond deer. Deer model how plants grow and change over time. If deer decline due to CWD, it can affect vegetation, soils, and other wildlife that rely on deer for food or habitat. The conversation.

Is zombie deer disease occurring in other countries?

In addition to affected areas in North America, including the US and Canada, there are cases in Norway, Finland, Sweden and South Korea. CWD can occur in other countries with low or weak animal surveillance systems, such as in 2010 CDC.

Is there anything we can do to prevent the spread of the disease?

of CDC Provides guidelines for hunters to hunt in areas with CWD.

  • Avoid shooting, handling, or eating deer and loons that are sick, strange, or dead.
  • When dressing deer, use rubber or rubber balls, handle parts as close as possible, and avoid using household knives or kitchen utensils.
  • See state wildlife and public health guidelines for testing recommendations.
  • Consider testing the deer or elk for CWD before consuming the meat
  • If processed commercially, ask for individual processing to avoid mixing meat from multiple animals.
  • If the animal tests positive for CWD, avoid eating the meat.

Although more research is needed, there are currently vaccines being developed in clinical trials in Canada. Inder Science online.