Zombie Deer Disease? (No, it’s just CWD)

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SPRINGFIELD — A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the brain-wasting disease that infects deer could possibly be contagious to humans. 

Chronic Wasting Disease — or CWD — is something that harvested deer have been tested for in Missouri since the early 2000’s. 

CWD slowly deteriorates the animals brain over time. 

The CDC did a report based on testing they did in 2017 when they fed a monkey some deer meat that was infected with CWD. 

That monkey contracted the disease, which that has lead to many people — who likely had never heard of the disease prior to this — coining the term “zombie deer disease”. 

There are no known reports of humans getting CWD, but people are encouraged not to eat meat infected with the disease. Jasmine Batten, the Wildlife Disease Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says this CDC report has caused a bit of a frenzy online, but she says it doesn’t change much. 

“While there has been some experimental transmission of CWD to other species, the question still really kind of remains: How likely is this to transfer to people? The bottom line is — we don’t know today, but the human health experts are not ready to say that there is certain zero,” Batten says.

The CDC report doesn’t mean humans can’t contract the disease, it just means that the CDC is saying it is a possibility.

CWD is spread by something called a prion, which is an abnormally folded protein, spread from deer to deer, or even elk. 
It’s similar to other diseases such as Mad Cow Disease which also seemed to get people talking a number of years ago. 

The Conservation Department still says to follow CDC guidelines on eating deer meat.

You can check out the MDC reports they’ve released on CWD findings at their website. 

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