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Two hunters may have become first Americans to die from a ‘zombie deer’ disease

Two hunters in Wyoming become 'first Americans to die' from Zombie Deer disease: study
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Two hunters might be the first Americans to die from a disease called “zombie deer“, according to a recent study.

New research raises concerns over Zombie Deer Disease transmission to humans

Scientists have been saying for a while that this sickness, called chronic wasting disease (CWD), is very deadly and can make deer act strangely, like being confused, drooling, and not scared of people. They’ve warned that it could spread from animals to humans. Now, a recent study suggests that it might have happened already, with two hunters dying in 2022 after eating meat from infected deer.

A 72-year-old man experienced sudden confusion, aggression, and seizures before his health rapidly declined, leading to his death within a month. Doctors later determined that he had Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a brain disorder similar to Mad Cow Disease. Another person, a friend of the hunter, also died from CJD. But there aren’t many details available about their condition in the recent research published in the journal Neurology.

The researchers involved in the study are from Texas, but specific information about where the deaths occurred hasn’t been disclosed. has reached out to the researchers for further comment.

Researchers suspect that because both hunters had a history of consuming meat from the same infected herd, they might have contracted CWD themselves. “Although causation remains unproven, this cluster emphasizes the need for further investigation into the potential risks of consuming CWD-infected deer and its implications for public health,” the authors wrote.

Understanding the spread and impact of Chronic Wasting Disease

CJD is caused by misshapen proteins called prions, which don’t fold correctly. Once infected, these abnormal prions spread throughout the central nervous system, leaving deposits in the brain and other organs. There are currently no treatments or vaccines available for CWD, and the illness is fatal in all cases.

While the exact way the disease spreads isn’t entirely understood, it’s believed that it passes from one animal to another through contaminated forage or water, often tainted by infected feces. Direct contact, including exposure to saliva, blood, urine, and even antler velvet during shedding season, may also contribute to transmitting the pathogen.

On farms, any deer that dies must be tested for CWD to prevent further spread. Since the disease is highly contagious, if one animal tests positive, the entire herd is considered infected.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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