Nevada Officials Fear Spread of 'Zombie Deer'


Officials in Nevada are desperately trying to keep all deer with a highly contagious, fatal condition known as chronic wasting disease - sickening them with zombie-like symptoms - out of the state. The disease causes abnormal behavior in deer, including lethargy and a loss of fear of humans, the AP reports.

"Zombie deer" are already in Utah-and Nevada fears it could be next.

Although it's possible the disease could spread to humans, according to experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been no cases reported of humans contracting it.

Wildlife officials are warning hunters about a brain-wasting disease affecting deer in 24 states, though no cases have been reported in humans to this date, USA Today reports.

The disease doesn't always show symptoms.

The number of Kansas counties with the disease is up from 27 earlier this year.

CWD targets a deer's brain and spine, both of which have banned from being imported from out of state in an attempt to curb spread of the disease.

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A 2004 study in the Centers for Disease Control's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal showed two captive mule deer populations were infected with the disease in separate paddocks that hadn't had infected animals in them about two years.

Dr Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told lawmakers that laboratory research suggested it was "probable" that human cases of CWD would occur in future.

Peregrine Wolff, a Nevada Department of Wildlife veterinarian, said she knows Nevada is not totally immune to the sickness.

Chronic wasting disease can incubate for more than a year before animals present symptoms, so the CDC recommends hunters test meat before consuming it and avoid eating the meat of infected venison.

CWD can incubate for more than a year before animals display the symptoms, so USA officials recommend that deer hunters test meat before consuming it.

Since 2000, chronic wasting disease has spread to 26 states and Canadian provinces, with the highest concentration of U.S. cases in Colorado and Wyoming and the border between Wisconsin and IL.