n 24 US states and two provinces in Canada reported cases of chronic cachexia (CWD) in wild deer, moose and elk, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. This deadly neurological disorder is also known as & zombie & # 39; deer disease.
According to The New York Post, this condition causes a severe weight loss in animals and causes them to run in repetitive patterns and they lose the fear of people. First identified at the end of the sixties in a deer in Colorado, the chronic wasteful disease slowly spreads to other places and in January 2019 it is registered in 251 counties in 24 states. The CDC notes that cases have also been registered in Norway, Finland and South Korea.
Although the disease has not yet been reported in humans, some specialists have expressed concern that this disease can affect them. Experts from the University of Minnesota therefore argue that CWD should be treated as a public health problem. Michael Osterholm, specialist in this entity, said that "it is likely that documented cases of people with chronic cachexia will be described in the coming years associated with the consumption of contaminated meat." "It is possible that the number of cases in humans is considerable and not isolated events," he added.
The expert compared chronic wasteful disease with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or mad cow disease) and noted that for a time the experts did not believe that it could spread to people.
It is believed that CWD is transmitted via proteins called prions in body fluids, such as faeces, saliva, blood or urine, and that they can stay in the environment for a long time, reports the New York Post. There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease and the symptoms can take up to a year to appear.
A Canadian study showed last year that macaques that had infected meat with CWD developed the disease.