Can Zombie Deer Infect Humans?


Can Zombie Deer Infect Humans?

It is rather amazing how so critical an issue as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has not received more mainstream media attention. That is until now, when it has finally been recognized as a potential threat to infect humans. Even so, we do not know this for sure yet, but doubtless there is ongoing research to determine these impacts.

CWD has been around for a long time now, having been discovered in Colorado some 50 years ago. It is a constant agenda item at countless meetings, symposiums, conferences, and research gatherings concerning the status of the white-tailed deer in America. The least we know is that the disease remains a ticking bomb in terms of our country’s deer herds. The deer biologists know all this. But, we remain ignorant of how this disorder may eventually cause harm to the human race. These infected deer are now being called Zombie Deer.

As you may know or not, CWD is similar to mad cow disease. It is caused by the spread of proteins gone wild they now call prions. Now, researchers in Canada have become concerned that we as the human species could potentially become infected by eating CWD diseased deer, elk, moose, or other animals that carry these same prions. If that concern should become founded in fact, the result could be scary.

Proof? The Canadian researchers have demonstrated that primate animals with similarity to humans can catch CWD when fed a steady diet of infected meat. If this result could find a way to be extrapolated to humans, then in theory we could contract CWD if we consume CWD infected meat as well. The researcher’s recommendation is “to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

An immunologist at Colorado State University suggests that “CWD is still a newly discovered condition, it may evolve rapidly, which leads us to believe it’s only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans.” Rather sounds like a ticking clock does it not?

A quick study of the attached map graphic shows the general areas in America where CWD infected deer and other animals have been identified. If you reside or hunt in these areas with the likelihood of harvesting an animal with CWD then the prudent thing to do would be to have all the meat tested before consumption. If there is any doubt, destroy the meat, skeletal bones, and especially the skull with brains. There is no reason to take any undue risk with CWD.

Avatar Author ID 67 - 971553676

Award winning outdoor writer/photographer since 1978. Over 3000 articles and columns published nationally. Field & Stream Hero of Conservation in 2007. Fields of writing includes hunting most game in American, Canada, and Europe, fishing fresh and saltwater, destination travel, product reviews, industry consulting, and conservation issues. Currently VP at largest community college in Mississippi in economic development and workforce training with 40 years of experience in Higher Education. BS-MS in wildlife sciences from MO. University, and then a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Married with two children and Molly the Schnoodle.

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