“Like mad cow disease.” Fears of “zombie deer” spreading to humans “Like mad cow disease.” Fears of “zombie deer” spreading to humans

“Like mad cow disease.” Fears of “zombie deer” spreading to humans

“Like mad cow disease.” Fears of “zombie deer” spreading to humans

Reports of the death of two hunters who contracted "zombie deer" disease after eating contaminated meat have raised scientists' concerns about the possibility of the disease being transmitted from animals to humans.

Zombie deer, known as chronic wasting disease (CWD), was discovered in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming in the 1990s, and cases of infection in deer, elk and moose have been recorded in at least 32 US states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease attacks the brain and nervous system, leaving animals vulnerable to drooling, lethargy, stumbling and weight loss.

Some experts fear that the disease will spread to people in a manner similar to the spread of mad cow disease in the 1990s.

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio reported how two hunters who ate deer infected with CWD died after developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a neurological disease like CWD.

Scientists said that one of the fishermen (77 years old) died within a month of infection, despite treatment.

“The patient’s history, including a similar case in his social group, suggests possible transmission of CWD from animals to humans,” they wrote in the case report, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology and published in the journal Neurology. 

Because of the difficulty in distinguishing between diseases, the research team said that the recorded case does not represent a confirmed case of transmission. However, the report emphasizes the need for further investigation into the potential risks of consuming meat from deer infected with CWD and its public health implications.

Al-Sayyad's friend also died of the disease, but the new report did not share many details about his condition.

It is worth noting that CWD is an incurable “prion disease” that affects animals, deer, elk, reindeer, sika, and moose. Prion diseases fall within a group of rare and aggressive neurodegenerative diseases that affect both animals and humans (CJD is a human prion disease).

While scientists don't know much about prion diseases, they tend to be fatal.


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