A deer disease could spread to humans according to experts. The disease could be contracted by those that eat deer meat.
The affliction is known as the chronic wasting disease and it has already infected free-range elks, deer and moose that live in 24 American states and two Canadian states, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some researchers have already stated that human cases of chronic wasting disease could appear in the following years as the infection continues to spread to more deer. The disease has been compared to the ‘’mad cow’’ epidemic that affected the United Kingdom in the past. Farm owners argued that humans aren’t able to contract the disease but 156 UK citizens died in the 1990’s due to the ‘’mad cow’’ disease.
At this point there are no reports of CWD cases in humans but the situation could change in the future. Several studies note that the disease can infect other animals, including primates. It is likely that humans could contract the disease by eating infected deer meat. It is estimated that up to 15,000 animals infected with CWD are consumed each year and the number is thought to grow by at least 20% each year according to the Alliance for Public Wildlife.
The chronic wasting disease was first spotted in captive deer back in the 1960. The first cases appeared in Colorado and the infected wild deer were identified in 1981. In less than 10 years the disease spread through other states. In 2000 it was known that the disease is present in at least 20 states, usually encountered among free range animals.
The disease is quite severe as it attacks the brain and spinal cord of an infected animal by using mutated prion proteins that are able to harm normal prion proteins. The cell will explode, leading to severe neurological damage in the long run.
The CDC advises hunters to test meat obtained from deer that live in affected areas.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.