‘Zombie Deer Disease’ is ‘Real Threat’ to New York
"Zombie Deer Disease" was confirmed just a stone's throw away from New York and top state officials say this disease is a "real threat" to the Empire State.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is also called "Zombie Deer Disease" because of the symptoms it causes. An infected animal starts to stumble, act lifeless and confused about a year after an animal is infected, officials say.
A deer was found on the border of New York with "Zombie Deer Disease," the New York State DEC confirmed to Hudson Valley Post. A deer taken on a Warren County, PA, captive shooting facility in mid-December 2020 was recently confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
"Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a real threat to New York’s wild deer and moose populations, and the latest detection in Pennsylvania brings the disease to our border. We’re encouraged by the swift actions of officials in Pennsylvania and that CWD was not detected in the other captive deer," the New York State DEC told Hudson Valley Post in an email.
Because of the proximity of this facility to New York, DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets are communicating with wildlife and agriculture officials in Pennsylvania implementing control measures, including establishing a new Disease Management Area, which extends to the New York border.
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This week, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issued an “emergency order” after six deer breeding facilities had positive CWD deer in them.
As of this writing, the DEC says there is currently no evidence that CWD is present in wild deer in New York. However, there are 26 states with reported CWD in the past, including New York. In 2005, a deer from Oneida County was confirmed to have CWD, according to the CDC.
CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It is always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is believed to be caused by a prion, which is an infectious protein, that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or contaminated environments.
CWD poses a significant threat to New York's wild white-tailed deer herd, the DEC reports. To protect New York’s deer herd from CWD, the DEC will follow strategies outlined in the Interagency CWD Response Plan. In addition, DEC will begin an enhanced effort to test deer in the area through an opportunistic collection of vehicle-killed deer or deer taken on damage permits. Future actions will depend on the results of this immediate sampling and information obtained from Pennsylvania.
It's unclear if CWD can be transferred to people from eating meat from an infected animal. As of this writing, there are no documented cases of CWD infecting humans, but the DEC urges caution when handling or processing CWD-susceptible animals. Cooking meat won't reduce the risk that you will be exposed to the disease, officials say.
"Hunters must consider many factors when determining whether to eat meat from deer and elk harvested from areas with CWD, including the level of risk they are willing to accept. Hunters harvesting wild deer and elk from areas with reported CWD should check state wildlife and public health guidance to see whether testing of animals is recommended or required in a given state or region. In areas where CWD is known to be present, CDC recommends that hunters strongly consider having those animals tested before eating the meat," the CDC states.
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