Zombie Deer Disease Spreads to 32 U.S. States, Causing Fear It Could Spread to Humans

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An infectious and fatal illness that damages the brain and nervous system has been spreading among deer in the United States.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is “expanding” and has now been found in deer, elk, and moose in at least 32 states and four Canadian provinces, according to a December update from the National Wildlife Health Center, a governmental organization dedicated to wildlife disease detection, control, and prevention.

Over the past two months, several areas of the country reported cases of the disease for the first time, including the state of Kentucky, Yellowstone National Park, and Coleman County, Texas.

The illness has earned the nickname “zombie deer disease” because it eats away at the brain and causes stumbling, excessive drooling and head lowering, blank stares, listlessness, and lack of fear of people, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. As the name of the disease implies, animals also gradually become skinnier, emaciated, or “wasted” over the course of a year or more.

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