Deer in 24 states infected with chronic wasting disease

Deer in 24 states infected with chronic wasting disease

According to CBS affiliate WJHL, CDC reported that a 2017 study showed monkeys who ate infected deer meat contracted CWD.

Previous discoveries of the disease in wild deer have been in Fillmore County, Houston and Winona Counties.

Chronic wasting disease belongs to the same family of diseases - known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies - as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

CWD was actually observed in the wild around four decades ago, with the CDC's report on it stating: "Since 2000, the area known to be affected by CWD in free-ranging animals has increased to at least 24 states, including states in the Midwest, Southwest, and limited areas on the East Coast".

Tomecek said mule deer populations in the 1990s saw rapid declines in in Rocky Mountain states during that time. According to the concluding statement of Osterholm, people have to be aware of this kind of phenomenon and the government should take necessary actions before the first case happens in humans.

CWD doesn't appear to naturally infect cattle or other domesticated animals.

Because CWD isn't viral or bacterial, the animals at risk can't be vaccinated, and "there's basically no way to treat it", Tomecek said.

"Where it dies and its body decomposes, that soil is contaminated and it always will be, so if another deer comes into contact with that dirt, it can get sick, too", he said. It can also be transmitted indirectly through environmental exposures, such as in tainted drinking water or food.

Currently, there is no evidence the disease can spread to humans, but the CDC warned hunters to be cautious around potentially infected animals.

The agency said that animals with the disease - which affects the central nervous system - can experience severe weight loss, lack of coordination and listlessness, and become more aggressive and less cautious of people, CNN reported. The prion disease is quite prevalent in areas of North America, including Canada and the United States. While CWD is still relatively rare, infection rates among deer and elk in areas where the disease is most common have been recorded at about 10-25%, the CDC says, and rates can be especially high among captive deer. Animals infected with CWD might be extremely underweight, stumbling and listless.

Related Articles