‘Zombie Deer’ Disease: First Suspected American Deaths Causes Fear Of Spread

The deaths of two Wyoming hunters have raised concerns about the potential spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) also known as “zombie deer” disease to humans. The hunters who were friends both died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) a rare brain disorder that is similar to Mad Cow Disease.

In a country where many use deer meat for food in a number of areas across the map, this is an incredibly dangerous and alarming development, if what is suspected to have happed did indeed occur.

A study published in the journal Neurology has suggested that the hunters may have contracted CJD from consuming venison from a herd of deer possibly infected with CWD. The exact causation is still uncertain but researchers from Texas have called for “further investigation” to determine the risks of eating meat from infected animals.

One of the victims a 72-year-old man exhibited symptoms such as confusion atypical aggression and seizures before succumbing to the disease within a month. His friend’s death has not been closely studied but there are suspicions that both hunters ate contaminated venison.

CWD is a serious danger for many hunters across the country even as some experts claim that it is not a threat to humans. The disease has the capacity to decimate the deer population and destroy a favorite pastime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that CWD has been detected in 436 counties in 32 states. To contain outbreaks several states have isolated infected deer herds and put them down.

Joe Phillips a regular hunter who works at Marks Outdoor Sports in Hoover Alabama told WVTM 13 that he does not believe hunters are overly worried about the outbreak. “You just hope it’s isolated up there and in control,” he said.

However Phillips acknowledged that an outbreak in Alabama would cause the number of hunters to drop. “And it might make people just want to you know pass up deer hunting for a little while until it’s corrected. We don’t want that,” he added.

The Daily Mail reported that deer infected with CWD are “confused drooling and unafraid of humans.” The long-feared spread of the disease into humans may have already started with the deaths of the two Wyoming hunters.

The tragic loss of these hunters serves as a wake-up call for the need to take CWD seriously and to invest in research to better understand the disease and its potential impact on human health. It is crucial that hunters and the general public are informed about the risks associated with consuming meat from infected animals and that measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease.