Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a disease which is found in the deer family only. It was first identified at the wildlife research facility of Colorado, and then we got to know that this is transmissible. Till now it has been spread to around 24 states, and experts claim that this disease will soon spread to humans also. The CDC says ”Chronic wasting disease has afflicted free-ranging deer, elk and moose in 24 states and two Canadian provinces as of January.”
The director of the Center for infectious disease research and policy, Osterholm said, “We are in an unknown territory situation,”. He also added “It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” he said. “It’s possible the number of human cases will be substantial, and will not be isolated events.”
Till now no active case is seen in humans, but studies are confirming that the transmission of the disease to humans is possible. The CDC also told the most common way of the transmission would be eating the infected deer meat. Each year we eat around 7000-15000 animals which are more or less affected by the disease. Osterholm told “Scientists can’t say for sure that CWD will cross over and infect humans but as time goes on and more infected meat is consumed, the likelihood increases” “It’s like a throw at the genetic roulette table,” he said.
Contaminated water, bodily fluids are said to be the primary reasons why the disease is spreading. Once the deer encounter the disease, its brain, and the spinal cord gets adversely affected. Symptoms include “Drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, lack of fear of people, and aggression.” The CDC has written “Once CWD is established in an area, the risk can remain for a long time in the environment. The affected areas are likely to continue to expand.”