(NationRise.com) – Yellowstone National Park officials confirmed on November 14 the first case of the so-called “zombie deer disease” in the natural area. The illness has been described as a fatal infection similar to mad cow disease. According to a Forbes report, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) got the “zombie” moniker because of the way infected animals tend to act, which is similar to the way so many movies portray zombies.
The media outlet pointed out that the disease is fatal and highly contagious. It also noted that it mainly impacts cervids, which is the family of mammals that include moose, reindeer, caribou, elk, and deer. Health experts explained that the fatal illness is caused by misfolded and infected protein variants that generally cause their “normal counterparts” prions to fold in the wrong way, destroying the animal’s nervous system and brain. Some of the main symptoms of CWD include drooling, stumbling, and wasting, which is a severe loss of body mass.
In a statement, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife noted that the illness is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as urine, blood, saliva, or feces. The agency also said there’s no vaccination or treatment for CWD, noting that nothing can be done when an animal is infected with the disease. It added that even some containment strategies, such as burning impacted areas, aren’t enough to “remove the threat.” It mentioned that many attempts throughout the country to eradicate the illness “have failed.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that while CWD doesn’t infect humans, some studies reveal it represents a risk to some non-human primates like monkeys. The agency also explained it will take action to address the issue at Yellowstone National Park and urged all hunters in the United States to prevent interacting with animals that are dead or look sick in infected areas.
According to the US Geological Survey, the government spent nearly $300 million on CWD from 2000 to 2021.
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