Researchers are worried that a brain illness known as 'zombie deer' disease may start infecting humans

Business Insider | 1/23/2018 | Kevin Loria
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Chronic wasting disease was discovered in the 1950s after researchers observed deer in Colorado behaving like zombies, staggering around blindly as they starved to death.

The disease — which is caused by spreading proteins called prions — has since spread to Canada and other US states including Michigan and Wisconsin.

Human - Disease - Study - Brain - Person

No human has caught the disease yet, but a new study suggests it could potentially get into the brain of a person who eats meat from an infected deer.

When a deer gets infected with chronic wasting disease, it can take up to two years before signs of the illness become visible.

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At some point, the animal will start to lose weight, stop interacting with other deer, lose its fear of humans, and may start drinking and salivating more. Ultimately, it winds up staring vacantly as it starves to death. That's why the illness is also known as "zombie deer" disease.

The disease is similar to mad cow disease and is caused by the spread of misfolded proteins called prions. As far as we know, no humans have ever been infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD).

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But Canadian researchers recently announced that they're concerned the disease could potentially start to infect humans that eat deer, elk, moose, or other members of the same animal family that carry the proteins.

Preliminary results from an ongoing study by the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada show that macaques, the primates most similar to humans that can be used in research, can catch CWD after...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Business Insider
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