Nevada fighting to keep 'zombie deer' from entering state

Nevada fighting to keep ‘zombie deer’ from entering state

The term "zombie deer" is used to describe animals who have contracted the disease that reports said can decimate populations of wild deer and elk.

The neurodegenerative condition reduces deer to stumbling, drooling creatures.

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.

It may be October but these "zombie deer" have nothing to do with Halloween. Prion diseases severely damage brain tissue and are incurable.

Some studies show that animals are contagious before symptoms start. State Department of Agriculture veterinarian JJ Goicoechea warned earlier this year that it is probably only a matter of time until the disease reaches Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when", Wolff said. "We know that we can't wrap Nevada in a bubble".

'It is probable that human cases associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead, ' Dr Osterholm, of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told the Minnesota legislature in February.

So far, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can cross species from deer to humans. They said one worrisome scenario is hunters dumping parts from an infected animal, which could lead to ravens or other scavengers spreading the disease.

Osterholm compared CWD to "mad cow" disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, noting that "many in the public health and beef industry did not believe mad cow disease could infect people", until researchers discovered the variant now known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which infected and killed over 150 people in the United Kingdom in the 1990's.

Chronic wasting disease first was detected in 1967 in a captive deer in a research facility at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

The situation is dire as officials fear the disease, which causes lethargy and emancipation, will devastate deer and elk populations.

"In watching the patterns as they progress through Colorado into Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, up into Montana now, it's spreading".