Dreaded ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ Detected in Yellowstone Ignites Fear of Human Transmission

Dreaded 'Zombie Deer Disease' Detected in Yellowstone Ignites Fear of Human Transmission
Dreaded 'Zombie Deer Disease' Detected in Yellowstone Ignites Fear of Human Transmission
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The discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), colloquially known as ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ in a Yellowstone National Park deer, has triggered alarming concerns amongst experts. The dire warning came about after scientists found evidence of the prion-transmitted brain disease in a deceased deer carcass last month, marking its first known existence in the park. CWD, an invariably fatal, highly contagious virus akin to ‘Mad Cow’ disease, displays alarming indications of potential human transmission, further escalating worry, apprehension, and calls for immediate action.

This dreaded disease is known to cause slow but sure neurological deterioration, marked by weight loss, lack of coordination, excessive drooling, reduced animal-human fear, and ultimate death in deer and related species. The disease has exhibited a worrying rate of spread, extending its reach to 31 US states, two Canadian provinces, and as far as South Korea, as per data from the US Geological Survey. This harsh reality is creating grave apprehension about possible future human infections.

Dr. Cory Anderson warns, using the British Mad Cow disease outbreak as a precedent, that is possible for CWD to swiftly and chaotically spill over from livestock to humans. While not an imminent certainty, its potential presence in human hosts heightens the urgency of preventative cautionary measures. He adds, “We must be prepared…CWD is invariably fatal, incurable, and highly contagious – we don’t have an effective easy way to eliminate it.”

US National Park Service (NPS) counters the alarm, stating, “currently no evidence that CWD can infect humans or domestic animal species.” Yet, it still advises against consuming tissues from infected animals. The contradiction between the potential risk and official assurance underpins the uncertain, unsettled status of this urgent and concerning issue, ultimately necessitating vigilant monitoring and research of CWD.

Disease testing performed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Health Laboratory involves evaluating live and dead animals’ nervous system tissues – primarily, the central nervous system (e.g., spinal cord) and peripheral systems (e.g., retropharyngeal lymph nodes, tonsils). This critical step guides the prevention strategy against silencing this formidable foe.

Yellowstone officials are currently working with WGFD to closely track and analyze the park’s deer and other hooved species. In response to the detection, adjustments to the 2021 CWD surveillance plan have been made, with a new monitoring plan slated for the next year. Yellowstone aims to enhance their collaborative efforts with the WGFD to strategize methods of controlling and, hopefully, eliminating the disease.

For context, Wyoming game officials first detected CWD in the state’s southeastern region in 1985. Now, its entry into Yellowstone signifies a decades-long westward movement across the state. This latest episode demonstrates that the invisible enemy has managed to infiltrate the arguably impregnable national park.

In conclusion, the emergence of CWD into Yellowstone National Park is an urgent wake-up call. Precedents like the British Mad Cow disease outbreak emphasize the potential risk to humans, outlining the potential for a disastrous health crisis if not strategically managed. The alarm from the scientific community must trigger urgent, concerted actions from policy makers and regulatory bodies to devise control and eradication strategies, tighten monitoring efforts, and above all, alert and educate the citizens about the impending danger. This crisis is not one to be downplayed, but rather to be combatted with full force before it formidable adversary evolves beyond our control.

Next News Network Team

Next News Network Team

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