Disease is affecting deer in Canada: Explained
Infected animals eventually exhibit abnormal behavior and loss of control over their bodily functions such as normal walking, normal eating, and coordination, leaving them often dead or unable to survive on their own. When a deer becomes infected with CWD, it can lose its fear of humans and other predators. These deer have other symptoms of illness such as emaciation, increased thirst and urination, tremors or lack of coordination, high-pitched noises and wide eyes.
It is these outward symptoms in animals that have led some to refer to CNS infections as ‘zombie disease’. Linking the infection to zombies is even more appropriate because deer can transmit the disease through animal-to-animal contact, especially in urine and saliva. Deer herds in western parts of Canada are threatened by a strange, debilitating and highly contagious infectious disease like wildfire and causing a pandemic. This outbreak is causing concern in two Canadian provinces – Alberta and Saskatchewan, VICE World News reported.
Zombie disease and its consequences
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), zoster disease is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, elk, sika deer, and reindeer. The disease can affect animals of any age and can be fatal. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine for this disease.
When a deer becomes infected, it can lose its fear of humans and other predators. Other symptoms include drooling, poor coordination, tripping, depression, paralysis, and behavioral changes.
Origin and spread of zombie disease
Zombie disease was first detected in a captive deer at a US research facility in the late 1960s. The disease has also spread in wild populations in Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. In Canada, the disease was first identified on an elk farm in Saskatchewan, 1996. It then spread to wild populations. The first case was confirmed in Alberta in 2005.
“Now, we’re looking at how children with disabilities are encroaching on the eastern fringes of Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary,“Margo Pybus, a researcher and wildlife disease specialist in the government’s fish and wildlife department, says VICE World News.
Manitoba reported its first case in 2021, despite the fact that the infection was mainly found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Are people at risk?
According to the CDC, people can get sick from eating infected deer or elk meat. Hunters are particularly susceptible to infection because infection can enter their bodies from improper handling of the carcass.
To date, no cases of TKT have been reported in humans. However, the CDC has recommended testing deer before consumption and limiting meat consumption if the results are positive.