‘Zombie Deer Virus’ infects deer across the country

Lee Dildine, Reporter

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A deadly disease is infecting the population of deer and similar hoofed animals, like moose and elk, causing the deer to go into a sort of ‘zombified’ state according to Health.com

The disease is scientifically called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and causes the proteins, called prions, in the bodies of venison to attack the brain and spinal tissue.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease affects all ages and some infected deer may die without ever developing symptoms of the deadly disease.

On the authority of the CDC, the result is, after a year of infection, the deer start stumbling, acting tired or lack energy, the saliva thickens, and they rapidly lose weight, hence the nickname ‘Zombie Deer Virus’.

The CDC also reports that “…some animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to certain types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk.”

During a test conducted by the CDC, five monkeys were fed infected meat from a white-tailed-deer, out of the five monkeys, three of them tested positive for CWD.

Health.com states that humans, to the knowledge of the CDC, cannot develop this disease.

Humans can, however, develop a similar, and fatal, disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, which causes memory loss, personality changes, anxiety, and depression.

This disease is also contracted from eating the contaminated meat or coming into contact with the infected tissue of cows.

The victims of Mad Cow Disease usually lapse into a coma and die, as there are no vaccines or treatments for this disease; only 30 cases have ever been reported in the US.

CWD was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado. As of January of this year, 251 counties in 24 states have reported seeing the disease in their free ranging deer.

Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, believes that the only way to destroy the virus is to set controlled fires to kill off affected deer.

The fires would also burn away plants that have been touched by the deer, which leave prion residue in the soil and on leaves.

Zabel also said, during an interview with WND, that “there’s a lot we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease.”