Deer in at least 22 U.S. states and parts of Canada have died from a neurological disease called “chronic wasting disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But could this illness, which is sometimes dubbed “zombie deer disease,” spread to people, just as “mad cow disease” has done in the past?
Chronic wasting disease can cause a number of symptoms in animals, including drastic weight loss, a lack of coordination, drooling, listlessness or a “blank” facial expression, and a lack of fear of people, according to the CDC. It infects members of the deer (cervid) family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, reindeer, moose and elk.
The disease was first discovered in Colorado in 1967, according to the CDC, and so far, no cases in humans have ever been reported.