Mysterious ‘Zombie disease’ is killing deers in Canada: Everything you need to know about the virus

A bizarre and highly infectious virus is creating havoc in Canada’s deer herds. According to health experts, the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a concern in at least two of Canada’s provinces – Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a highly communicable disease. As per the report, the CWD was originally detected at a research facility in a captive deer in the late 1960s. The same illness was later detected in the wild populations in Colorado in 1981.

The chronic wasting disease has since then been found in at least 26 states, which is now being considered an endemic in Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.

The hunters are particularly vulnerable to this disease, as the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the CWD could spread to people through the eating of infected elk or deer.

The Chronic Wasting Disease belongs to a peculiar class of pathogens called prions. It belongs to the same class of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) diseases, which is also commonly known as the mad cow disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which impacts humans and Scrapie which infects sheep and goats also belong to the same category as CWD.

Until now there haven’t been any cases recorded in humans so far, but the U.S. Center for Diseases Control and Prevention “strongly recommends” not to have deer that have been harvested from the CWD affected areas and not to eat the meat if found positively affected.

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