FEB 12, 2018 8:05 AM PST

Are These Deer Becoming Zombies?


Across Canada, there are fears that a disease normally found in animals such as moose, deer, and other wildlife could spread to humans. The condition, called Chronic Wasting Disease, kills the animals it infects, but up until recently it was thought that humans could not contract the disease, but research from the Alberta Kryon Research Institute shows that it is possible for humans to get CWD from eating meat from infected meat.

No cases have been found in humans, but the study at AKRI used primates that are genetically almost identical to people. Hunting deer, elk and moose for their meat is popular in Canada and parts of the United States, and estimates are that humans consume between 7,000 and 15,000 pounds of CWD contaminated meat each year. The disease is a prion disease, which results from improperly folded proteins in the brains of the animals it infects. It's sometimes called the "Zombie Deer Disease" because the neurological effects on the animals make them behave like zombies, stumbling through their environment. It's similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) which is also prion-related.
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  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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