(Gray News) – A fatal disease that affects the brain and spinal cords of the deer, elk and moos has been shown in at least 24 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) – often referred to as "zombie deer disease" or some variant – is in the same family as the human form of "mad cow disease."
Symptoms of CWD in animals include: stumbling, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, aggression, lack of fear of people, and drastic weight loss.
The disease is spread directly by animal-to- Animal contact and indirectly through contaminated water and food.
The CDC says "to date, there is no strong evidence of the occurrence of CWD in people;" but if CWD could spread to people, "it would most likely be eating of infected deer and idol."
There have not been reported cases of CWD infection in humans.
Still, experimental studies "raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposure to CWD. "
The CDC recommends that the hunters harvest the wilderness and elk from areas where CWD has been reported" strongly consider "having tested animals.
Another CDC recommendation: "Hunters harvesting wild deer and elk from areas with reported CWD should check state wildlife and public health guidance to see if testing animals is recommended or required in a given state or region. "
The CDC also recommends that the hunters should not shoot, handle or eat from animals that show symptoms of CWD.
As of January 201
The CDC says the overall occurrence of the disease in the country in the free-range deer and elk is relatively low, but adds that infections rate in areas where the disease is established may exceed 10 percent, or 1 out of 10 – and infection rate more than 25 percent have The CDC says. "The infection rate among some captive deer can be much higher, with a rate of 79 percent (nearly 4 in 5) reported from at least one captive herd."
CWD does not appear to naturally infect cattle or other domesticated animals.
CWD has also been reported in two provinces in Canada, and in the reindeer and moose in Norway and Finland – and there has been a small number of imported cases reported in South Korea.
The disease was first ide ntified in captive deer in the late 60s in Colorado and in wild deer in 1981.
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