(Gray News) – A deadly disease affecting the brain and spinal cord of deer, elk and elk has been reported in at least 24 states, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) – often referred to as "zombie-deer disease" or any variant – is in the same family as the human form of "mad cow disease".
Symptoms of CWD in animals include: tripping, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, saggy ears, aggression, lack of anxiety, and drastic weight loss.
The disease is spread directly through animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through contaminated water and food.
The CDC says, "So far, there is no clear evidence of the occurrence of CWD in humans." If CWD spread to humans, "it would most likely be through eating infected deer and moose."
No cases of CWD infection in humans have been reported.
Nevertheless, experimental studies give cause for concern CWD can pose a risk to humans and suggest that it is important to prevent people from exposure to CWD.
The CDC recommends hunters who have harvested deer and moose from areas where CWD is considered to be "considered" the disease before eating the meat.
Another CDC recommendation: "Hunters, harvesting deer and moose from designated CWD harvest areas should review state wildlife and public health policies to determine if animal testing is recommended or required in a particular state or region
The CDC also recommends that hunters should not shoot, handle or eat meat from animals with CWD symptoms.
From January 201
The CDC says the overall incidence of the disease is relatively low among nationally spread deer and elk, but adds that infection rates in areas where the disease is established may exceed 10 percent, or 1 in 10, and infection rates of more than 25 percent has been reported in some areas.
"The infection rates of some captive deer can be much higher, with a rate of 79 percent (almost 4 out of 5) reported from at least one trapped herd," says the CDC.
CWD does not appear to naturally infect cattle or other domesticated animals.
CWD has also been reported in two Canadian provinces, as well as in reindeer and elk in Norway and Finland – and in South Africa a small number of imported cases have been reported in Korea.
The disease was the first disease recorded in Colorado in the late 1960's and in wild game in 1981.
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