CDC fears ‘zombie deer disease’ spreading in Kansas could infect humans

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The Center for Disease Control issued a warning about a deadly disease spreading into states including Kansas.

Chronic wasting disease, recently called the “zombie deer disease,” infects the brain, spine and tissue of deer, elk and moose. According to the CDC, the disease gets its start infecting prion proteins in the brain, and is passed through contact with contaminated body fluids and tissue. Afflicted animals show symptoms such as emaciation from forgetting to eat, excessive drooling and stumbling.

There are no treatments or vaccines for CWD, and the disease is fatal.

The CDC has raised the alarm about the potential for CWD to infect humans, as a July 2017 study has shown monkeys who ate infected deer meat contracted the disease. There is no known case of CWD in a person. However, the CDC has warned the public to test deer or elk from areas with documented infections before eating the meat.

Hunters in Kansas can have deer tested by sending a brain tissue sample to the K-State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has also made a list of safety practices to help prevent the spread of CWD in the state.

The CDC’s updated January 2019 map shows CWD has been documented in Kansas counties including:

  • Cheyenne
  • Decatur
  • Ellis
  • Finney
  • Ford
  • Graham
  • Gray
  • Grove
  • Hodgeman
  • Jewell
  • Kearny
  • Logan
  • Meade
  • Ness
  • Norton
  • Pawnee
  • Phillips
  • Rawlins
  • Rush
  • Scott
  • Sheridan
  • Sherman
  • Smith
  • Stafford
  • Thomas
  • Trego
  • Wallace

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