Zombie Deer?

A deer infected with Chronic Wasting Disease

Tim Wells

A deer infected with Chronic Wasting Disease

Franklin Robinson and Joe Stern

A deer spotted showing signs of Chronic Wasting Disease

A new outbreak of an infectious zombie-like disease is rapidly spreading throughout deer populations in the United States. The chronic wasting disease, better known as the zombie deer disease, has been running rampant through deer populations from the Midwest to the East coast. Cases have been confirmed in 24 states and is suspected to be spreading very quickly to deer populations in other states. The disease has been found in Northern California and as far East as New York. Infected deer begin showing little fear to humans and display high levels mental decay.

CWD (chronic wasting disease) affects the brains of the Cervidae family, which includes deer, elk, moose, and many other antlered mammals. The disease leaves holes in the brain, causing the animal to lose many basic functions, and eventually die. The disease can be spread through contact with infected feces, urine, saliva, or by consuming infected meat. All though there have been no confirmed cases of CWD in humans, the Center for Disease Control fears that the disease could easily spread to humans. A major fear is the possibility of infected water sources. CWD can be spread through water sources and if deer infect drinking water, the disease could easily spread to the human population and cause a zombie apocalypse.

Chronic wasting disease was first identified in the late 1960s. The first case was confirmed in Colorado, and that is where the current outbreak is suspected to have originated from, according to Ashley May of USA Today. The first cases of wild deer displaying CWD-like behavior was in 1981, but since then, the number of reported cases were low enough that they weren’t considered a danger to humans. But with the recent surge in the number of confirmed cases of CWD, there is reason for concern among experts in the field of CWD.

When asked about if he thought whether or not the disease could spread to humans, senior Chris Espejo stated “I believe that it is possible that this disease can spread to humans since it has spread to other species.”  When asked about whether or not CWD would affect him personally, Sam Kursman responded, saying “I believe it will because [it] has affected many deer in America and deer are great animals. It would be a shame if deer became extinct because of it.”

Connecticut has an estimated deer population of over 100,000 and they are present in most areas of the state. Because of the fact that CWD can be spread by contact with feces, it is very plausible that someone’s pets may come into contact with in infected feces and can easily spread the disease to humans through contact with dog or cat saliva. Another possibility of infection could be through contact with contaminated water. Especially with a large deer population living around reservoirs in West Hartford and surrounding areas of Connecticut, the possibility of CWD contaminating water sources is very high, should infected deer get into contact with water. Hopefully, efforts by the CDC to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease will prove fruitful and will prevent the further spread of the disease throughout America.