We've got a new addition to the list of apocalyptic-sounding diseases – a "zombie deer disease" that has been infecting hundreds of animals in the US, with a growing possibility it might make the jump to humans.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD), colloquially referred to as "zombie deer disease," has become a growing concern among scientists as it has infected hundreds of animals in the United States over the past year. The recent discovery of the disease in Yellowstone National Park has heightened worries about the potential transmission to humans.
Damn, Rudolph caught the zombie deer disease 💀 pic.twitter.com/vdEZr9aHyh— Creepy.org (@CreepyOrg) December 25, 2023
Despite primarily affecting animals, there are concerns among scientists that CWD could eventually pose a threat to human health.
The comparison to the mad cow disease outbreak in Britain serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of spillover events from animals to humans.
Dr Cory Anderson, a CWD researcher, emphasizes the importance of preparedness in an interview with the Guardian, even though the likelihood of human transmission remains uncertain.
It starts. You watch: be walking down the street one day, happy about how things are finally going right, and CHOMP!! zombie deer bites ya in the ass. pic.twitter.com/HOgQuQ5lEp— Ryan (@Ryno_Charger) December 24, 2023
The cherry on top? There's no foolproof way to eradicate this menace. Once it contaminates an area, it proves extremely difficult to eliminate, persisting for years in soil or on surfaces. Moreover, the prion has shown resistance to common disinfectants, formaldehyde, radiation, and even incineration at high temperatures.
Scientists confirm this is the best approach to combating the zombie deer disease pic.twitter.com/HmQKCF8STO— Hot White Hennessy (@Phillystunna221) December 25, 2023
The CDC acknowledges the potential risk to humans, citing animal studies that suggest a risk to certain non-human primates exposed to CWD-infected materials. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has emphasized the importance of preventing agents of known prion diseases, including CWD, from entering the human food chain.
As the world faces increasing challenges related to zoonotic diseases, the emergence and spread of CWD serve as a grim reminder of the importance of monitoring and addressing such potential threats.