Despite continued efforts to control its spread in the United States and abroad, the deadly chronic wasting disease (CWD) remains a threat for which there is no vaccine or treatment.
In 2005, a “zombie deer” disease swept through New York after several deer infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) escaped from a fenced enclosure in Upstate New York’s largely rural Oneida County. attacked.
Only a swift and aggressive culling operation by the New York Department of Environmental Protection, which slaughtered hundreds of deer with the help of local hunters, was able to stop the outbreak.
To date, New York is the only state to eliminate CWD from its deer, elk, and elk populations.
However, CWD continues to spread around the world, and many regions of the country are on alert for the disease in wild and caged animals.
How does chronic wasting disease develop?
Chronic wasting disease is known to medical professionals as a prion disease, a group of rare progressive neurological diseases that affect humans and animals.
Other prion diseases include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as “mad cow disease.”
The disease causes spongy holes in the brains of infected animals and also affects spinal fluid and other body tissues.
Also, although there is no evidence that CWD has spread to humans, some research suggests that CWD poses a risk to certain types of primates that come into contact with the body fluids of infected animals.
“These studies raise concerns that people may also be at risk.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a 2021 report..
That same year, Pennsylvania reported an outbreak of CWD in deer just a few miles from the New York border. As of this monthThe CDC reports that the disease has been found in 31 states, as well as three Canadian provinces, Northern Europe and South Korea.
How CWD spreads
This is particularly problematic because prion diseases like CWD have long incubation periods, and infected animals can appear healthy for up to two years before showing symptoms, during which time they can spread the disease to other animals. There is.
CWD and other prion diseases are spread through body fluids and contaminated soil, plants, food, and water. When the disease progresses to the brain and nervous system, infected animals may exhibit the following symptoms:
Hunters are asked to be on the lookout for deer, elk, elk, or other cervids exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Additionally, anyone who peels or butchers meat should wear nitrile, rubber, or latex gloves.
To control the spread of CWD, New York State and most other states have strict regulations on importing live deer and other deer species from outside the state, and also prohibit imports of carcasses and byproducts. has been done.
People also do not feed wild deer because most human food is not healthy for deer, and concentrating animals in one feeding area can lead to the spread of CWD. Not allowed.