Deer in Yellowstone National Park dies of rare ‘zombie’ disease

Deer Zombie Virus
Credit: Pexels, Reference Picture

The ‘zombie’ disease has reached Yellowstone National Park. The ‘zombie deer disease’ or the ‘chronic wasting disease'(CWD) is a contagious and fatal illness that affects all forms of cervids, a group of animals that includes deer, elk, caribou, reindeer, and moose. The CWD has been spreading its flanks to about 31 states in the US until now.

According to People, Yellowstone National Park and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department issued a press release this week, claiming that they have detected the first recorded case of CWD in an adult mule deer buck who was incidentally the product of a study in Wyoming. The press release explained, “The mule deer buck was originally captured by WGFD staff near Cody, Wyoming, in March 2023 as part of a population dynamics study and fitted with a GPS collar,” adding, “The collar signaled the animal died mid-October 2023.”

From here, People reported that the park authorities have decided to take strict protocols of safety now that the disease has reached their premises. These concords include increased testing in deer, elk, and moose, as well as heightened surveillance of the park. The press release remarked, “CWD is a contagious, fatal disease of deer, elk, and moose caused by a malformed protein (prion) for which there is no vaccine or known treatment.”

The first recorded case of CWD dates back to the 1980s in Wyoming but has not reached the footsteps of Yellowstone until now. Via recorded cases, the symptoms of CWD include  “listlessness, weight loss, increased drinking and urinating, excessive drooling and head lowering, followed by their death.” As of the current research standing, CWD can transfer both directly and indirectly through particles of the disease, and long-term effects are still unknown to officials.

Whether the disease is zoonotic in nature is still unclear to authorities, according to People’s report, but the authorities warn humans to be careful. The CDC says, “Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain.”

Containment and elimination of the disease at its root is essential to get rid of it. Until then, strict protocols to prevent the spread of the disease must be implemented to avoid further complications.