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Zombie Deer Disease Reported in Texas: Could it Spread to Humans?

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Also known as Chronic Wasting Disease, “Zombie Deer Disease” isn’t something out of a horror movie screenplay. It’s an honest-to-goodness deadly infection developing in deer, moose, and elk throughout North America, and zombie deer have now been found in parts of Texas. The disease causes the animals to drastically lose weight, as well as their coordination, and turn aggressive. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a public notice regarding the matter, stating that there has been no evidence of transmission to humans or harm from the consumption of diseased meat. Erring on the side of caution, however, may still be the best course of action.

Zombie Deer Disease Reported in Texas: Could it Spread to Humans?

Photo: Pixabay.com

The counties presently found to be affected in the state of Texas consist of:

  • Medina
  • Dallam
  • Hudspeth
  • El Paso
  • Hartley

The term “zombie deer disease” stems from the disturbing effects that Chronic Wasting Disease has on the animals infected with it. In addition to the massive weight loss, distressed coordination, and visible aggressiveness, the animals that contract it are often observed having a vacant stare (associated with “zombies”). It was first detected in the late ’60s in Colorado in a group of captive deer. By 1981, it was discovered in wild deer and has gradually spread to the midwest, the southwestern United States, and in limited numbers to the eastern states.

Zombie Deer Disease Reported in Texas: Could it Spread to Humans?

Photo: Pixabay.com

At present, it has been advised by the CDC that hunters in areas where it has been found should have their game tested for Chronic Wasting Disease. Likewise, although symptoms of the disease have been known to take years to become apparent, if a deer or elk appears to be acting strange, the agency suggests that hunters refrain from shooting them, thus negating the need to process possibly diseased meat. At present, there are no reported cases of the disease found in humans. However, once it’s become established in the deer, elk, and moose population of a particular area, it has been practically impossible to eliminate. There are no treatments or vaccines for the disease. Precautions such as the warnings issued by the CDC are the best course of action as the disease continues to spread throughout North America. “The risk can remain for a long time in the environment,” the CDC advised. “The affected areas are likely to continue to expand.”