General, Research, Technology

Zombie deer disease may have already spread to humans

In February this year, experts from the Control Centerand Disease Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about the dangers of eating deer meat. The cause of concern for experts was a fatal infection that affects deer in North America. A chronic debilitating disease, which is popularly referred to as “zombie deer disease”, corrodes the brain of miserable animals, resulting in zombie-like symptoms such as aggression, increased salivation of difficulty walking and signs of dementia. Recently, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Research and Policy on Infectious Diseases, told The Independent that transmission of the virus from deer to humans may have already taken place. We just don’t know about it yet.

There is no cure for the disease that kills deer

What is chronic debilitating disease?

Chronic debilitating disease caused by prions -a special class of infectious agents that have an abnormal structure and do not contain nucleic acids. Scientists are familiar with another form of spongiform encephalopathy - prion neurodegenerative disease called mad cow disease. A chronic debilitating disease affects reindeer, white-tailed deer, elk, black-tailed deer and wapiti. Prions turn the brain of infected animals into a sponge-like shape, eating holes in brain tissue, resulting in animals losing fear of people and behaving aggressively. There is no cure for this disease.

At the beginning of this year, the Internet was crowdedvideos in which deer broke into houses and even died at the bottom of the pool. However, the most frightening shots were from hunting, which showed the terrifying and truly frightening state of sick animals. It is not surprising that social networks started talking about the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, but the researchers recall that any comparisons of sick deer with zombies are unscientific.

Prions turn the brains of infected animals into a sponge

But serious concerns are caused by the use ofvenison. Now that deer hunting season is in effect in many states, experts are sounding the alarm again about Chronic debilitating disease. However, according to some experts, it may already be too late to stop the spread of this contagious spongiform encephalopathy among people.

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How not to get zombie deer disease?

In an interview with The Independent Michael Osterholm,The director of the Center for Research and Policy on Infectious Diseases noted a frightening precedent: it took nearly a decade for health experts to realize that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (we are talking about rabies) is transmitted to humans. According to the expert, the probability of contracting any form of chronic debilitating disease is very high. A key factor in a deadly disease and its cardinal difference from mad cow disease is muscle depletion. Thus, everyone who uses venison risks falling victim to prion disease.

The presence of such a dangerous disease among deer is another factor in favor of rejecting meat.

US and Canadian authorities, where they were also discoveredinfected animals urge hunters to check any deer they kill for the presence of a Chronic debilitating disease. If the hunters have any reason to believe that the animal may be infected, it is impossible to eat meat for food under any circumstances. Recall that previous experiments showed that deer zombie disease can be transmitted to monkeys.