Zombie Deer Disease Frets Scientists and May Infect Humans, Pronto

Hunters Cautioned Not To Eat Deer Infected By Chronic Wasting Disease

Scientists Fear Deadly 'Zombie Deer Disease' Could Soon Make Leap to Humans

The "zombie" disease, officially called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), was first observed in 1967 when scientists noticed that deer in Fort Collins, Colorado, were starving to death after stumbling around like zombies.

The Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada's ongoing study's initial results indicate that macaques, the primates most similar to humans that can be used in research, can catch Chronic wasting disease after regularly consuming infected meat.

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The fear is that "zombie deer disease" could do much the same as Mad Cow Disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which first appeared in the mid-1980s in the United Kingdom after cattle ate the bone meal of sheep infected with scrapie, a fatal, degenerative disease similar to CWD that specifically affects sheep and goats.

Therefore, according to Health Canada, the potential for CWD to be transmitted to humans can't be eliminated.

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The research at Colorado State University suggests that the agents causing CWD are susceptible to evolution, which could also eventually transform into a prion that infects humans.

About 50 years ago, the disease was discovered in Colorado by the researchers. "We will start a dialogue with the local community through the County Deer Advisory Council on what steps should be taken next".

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Despite the fact that there is no definitive proof that humans can get sick from eating deer infected with the disease, a deadly neurological disorder similar to Mad Cow that's found in deer, elk and moose, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, asks hunters to test kills from certain areas affected by CWD. If the test result comes back positive they can discard it.

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