It has been a few months since I last heard anything about this ‘zombie’ deer disease that is found in deer, elk, and moose throughout the USA and Canada. The disease basically shuts their brains down, causing them to wander and act erratically.
The disease causes holes to form in the animal’s brains, holes caused by abnormal proteins known as prions. This is similar to the Mad Cow Disease outbreak of the 1980s. We covered this outbreak extensively here on BroBible earlier in the year. Here you can read about the dangers of this disease and here you can read more about the nature of this disease.
Previously, it wasn’t believed that this disease could be spread from Deer to Humans but flash forward to present day and a group of scientists/doctors have released a research paper suggesting this is possible but we wouldn’t know for quite some time because these abnormal proteins take so long to show up.
The Zombie Deer Disease has been found in New York, throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and up into Canada. So this isn’t an isolated disease and it’s one that deserves a lot more attention.
Here’s a rundown of this recently published study (via DailyMail):
University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm and other prion disease scientists believe chronic wasting disease could end up following a path similar to mad cow disease and jump to humans.
The doctors made their case in ‘Chronic Wasting Disease in Cervids: Implications for Prion Transmission to Humans and Other Animal Species’ published in July.
‘It is probable that human cases associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,’ Dr Osterholm, of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told the Minnesota legislature in February.
‘It is possible that a number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events,’ he told UPI.
‘We have historic perspective of mad cow disease, where the incubation period is likely 10 years or more.’ (via)
According to the paper, somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 animals infected with this disease are eaten each year so it’s definitely being consumed by humans. Now it’s just a waiting game to see if this disease will present itself in an extremely nasty way a few years down the line.
If you don’t know what to look for in deer/elk/moose, here are some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for:
Symptoms of the disease in the animals include emaciation, stumbling, drooling, droopy ears and head and lack of fear of people.
Mutant prions are thought to be spread through saliva, but also may be spread through urine or faeces.
They also spread when hunters field dress an infected animal and leave the guts behind.
Misshapen prions have been found in dirt and on plants and can last for years. They cannot be destroyed by cooking at high heat or by being treated with disinfectant.
‘Dazed, confused, skinny with a blank stare and wobbly,’ was how Wendy White described the elk buck that stared intensely into her windows, barely moving for days near her Colorado foothills home. (via)
I think it should go without saying that you should also NEVER EVER EVER eat roadkill even if it’s a fresh deer carcass. You don’t know what that animal looked like before it was blasted to smithereens. Also, that’s just nasty.
For more on this study and to read the paper, you can click here to visit the Daily Mail.