(WVLT) – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a disease that affects whitetail deer, mule deer, elk and elk. It's progressive and deadly, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
"We had 185 out of 3,000 tested deer, 185 positive," said Matthew Cameron with TWRA. "We will continue testing next fall, and hopefully we will not see it spread."
The disease damages parts of the brain, causes holes in the brain cells and causes a sponge-like appearance. Animals with the disease are usually emaciated, show abnormal behavior, lose body function, become weak and eventually die.
"It is not a living organism, so it spreads easily and can not be easily killed, so it spreads quickly and easily," said Cameron.
Earlier, TWRA said the disease did not seem to be affecting humans. Now, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say infection in humans is possible.
"The best we can say, and research shows that a human can not get it from eating an infected animal, so that's a good thing, but the CDC recommends that no one eat a deer if it does a known infected deer is "said Cameron.
According to CBS daughter WJHL, CDC reported that a 201
So far, no cases of people with CWD are known. The CDC has warned the public to test venison or elk meat on CWD before it is eaten from the affected areas.
Signs in animals include: loss of appetite, excessive salivation, weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, listlessness, teeth grinding and lowering of the head and drooping of the ears.
Information about CWD can be found here. Here are the Tennessee areas affected by CWD.