‘Zombie’ deer is a neurodegenerative disease that, if infected, reduces a deer, elk or moose into a zombi like state, making them drooling, stumbling creatures as they roam forests and countrysides in 24 states in the US.
Zombie deer disease is a fatal chronic wasting disease, that affects the brain and spinal cord of deer, moose and elk.
The state of Nevada, however, has been able to keep the zombie deer infection at bay for this hunting season and Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) officials are planning on keeping it that way.
The NDOW is doing this by issuing warnings of the disease and urging hunters bringing carcasses into the state to stop at the mobile stations the NDOW has set up to have their animal carcasses checked for this disease.
The NDOW check stations have been set up at truck stops near state borderlines in order to keep this infectious disease out of Nevada. According to the NDOW, a sampling is taken which is done in about five minutes. It will not affect the rest of the deer’s meat or its antlers, wildlife officials report.
This latest measure to protect Nevada’s wildlife was signed into legislation by Governor Steve Sisolak in May and it bans hunters from bringing deer, moose or elk carcasses into the state in order to prevent the transmission of this disease.
The symptoms of this disease exhibited by infected animals are drooling, stumbling and drastic weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) animals that have this disease can become more aggressive and lose their fear of humans.
The CDC believes that the disease is spread by animals drinking contaminated water or through contact with body fluids from an infected animal and is always fatal.
In its August, 2019 report the CDC says that 227 counties across 24 states are infected with this fatal disease, especially in Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas.
The CDC has warned that there is a low risk of the disease being transmitted to humans. The barrier between species may not completely protect hunters from contracting this fatal debilitating disease.
It is dangerous in that this chronic disease can remain incubated in animals for more than a year before any symptoms show up. The CDC highly recommends hunters have their animals tested before they eat it to avoid consuming any disease infected venison.
The CDC also warns hunters to wear proper gear while they are field dressing the carcasses of the animals to prevent Infection and by minimizing the time they spend on handling the brain and spinal tissue of the animals, which is where the disease originates.