Scientists Alarmed as ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ Gains Momentum, Posing Risks to Humans

Scientists have expressed concerns that the alarming “zombie deer disease,” formally known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), may pose a threat to human health. 

Over the past year, approximately 800 samples of deer, elk, and moose across Wyoming have been found infected with CWD, characterized by symptoms such as drooling, lethargy, stumbling, and a vacant stare.

Describing the situation as a “slow-moving disaster,” experts are urging governments to be vigilant and prepare for the possibility of the disease spreading to humans. 

Dr. Cory Anderson, a CWD researcher, drew parallels with the mad cow disease outbreak in Britain, emphasizing the importance of preparedness given the unpredictability of spillover events from animals to humans.

The historical context of mad cow disease in the UK, which resulted in the culling of 4.4 million cattle in the 1980s and 1990s, serves as a cautionary tale.

Cattle infected with mad cow disease faced a fatal impact on their central nervous system, leading to aggressive symptoms and coordination issues. 

Since 1995, 178 human deaths have been attributed to the human variant of the disease.

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CWD Outbreak Sparks Urgent Monitoring and Prevention

scientists-alarmed-as-zombie-deer-disease-gains-momentum-posing-risks-humans
Scientists have expressed concerns that the alarming “zombie deer disease,” formally known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), may pose a threat to human health.

Concerningly, CWD-infected animals have been consumed by humans, reaching an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 animals annually in 2017, with expectations of a 20% annual increase. 

In regions like Wisconsin, thousands may have unwittingly consumed meat from infected deer, raising the urgency of monitoring and preventive measures.

Complicating matters, CWD is notoriously challenging to eradicate once it contaminates an environment. 

The disease can persist in soil or on surfaces for years and displays resistance to disinfectants, formaldehyde, radiation, and incineration at high temperatures.

This alarming revelation aligns with the recent warning from the US biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, highlighting the potential rise of zoonotic diseases transmitted from animals to humans. 

The company predicted that such epidemics could result in 12 times more deaths by 2050 compared to 2020, attributing this increase to climate change and deforestation.

As the world faces evolving challenges in managing diseases transmitted from animals, scientists emphasize the critical need for heightened awareness, preparedness, and proactive measures to curb potential spillover events and safeguard public health.

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