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Chronic Wasting Disease: The 'Zombie Deer' Illness That's Spreading in US Parks

Source - en.wikipedia.org Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a neurological illness that affects deer, elk, and moose. It is caused by abnorma...

Source - en.wikipedia.org

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a neurological illness that affects deer, elk, and moose. It is caused by abnormal proteins called prions, which are similar to the prions that cause mad cow disease in cattle. CWD is progressive and fatal, and there is no known cure.

Symptoms of CWD

The symptoms of CWD can vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, animals may show no signs of illness. However, as the disease progresses, animals may become emaciated, disoriented, and aggressive. They may also drool excessively, have difficulty walking, and lose their coordination.

Transmission of CWD

CWD is thought to be transmitted through direct contact between animals, as well as through contact with contaminated soil, water, or feed. The disease can also be spread through the consumption of infected meat.

First Known Case in a US Park

The first known case of CWD in a US park was found in Yellowstone National Park in 2023. The infected animal was an adult mule deer buck that was found near Yellowstone Lake.

Concerns about CWD

CWD is a serious concern because it is a transmissible disease that can affect multiple species. There is no known cure for CWD, and it can be difficult to control. The spread of CWD could have a significant impact on deer, elk, and moose populations in the US.

What Can Be Done?

There are a number of things that can be done to help control the spread of CWD, including:

  • Monitoring deer and elk populations: This can help to identify and remove infected animals from the population.

  • Educating the public: Raising awareness about CWD can help to reduce the risk of human exposure to the disease.

  • Supporting research: Research is needed to develop a better understanding of CWD and to find potential treatments or cures.

Protecting Human Health

While there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, it is important to take precautions to avoid exposure to the disease. This includes avoiding contact with infected animals and their tissues, and cooking deer and elk meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conclusion

CWD is a serious disease that is having a significant impact on deer, elk, and moose populations in the US. There is no known cure for CWD, and it is difficult to control. However, there are a number of things that can be done to help control the spread of the disease. By taking these precautions, we can help to protect human health and the health of our wildlife.

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