Yellowstone’s “Zombie Deer Disease” & Its Potential Threat to Humans



Yellowstone National Park, a symbol of unspoiled natural beauty, is now the center stage of an unfolding ecological drama. 

Dubbed the “zombie deer disease” due to its debilitating effects on cervids, this prion disease presents a new chapter in the park’s storied history.

The Stealthy Spread of Cwd

Chronic Wasting Disease (ref), a silent killer spreading through North America’s cervid population, including deer, elk, moose, and caribou, is a tale of negligence and missed warnings.

Yellowstone: A Critical Case Study

Dr. Thomas Roffe, a veteran wildlife health expert, views the confirmation of CWD in Yellowstone as a vital wake-up call (ref). The park’s diverse ecosystem and migratory patterns of its wildlife create a natural laboratory for observing the disease’s impact.

The Looming Threat to Humans & Livestock

The specter of CWD jumping the species barrier looms large. Similar to the mad cow disease outbreak in the UK (ref), CWD has the potential to infect humans, livestock, and other mammals.

Public Health & Wildlife Management: a Delicate Balance

As hunting season unfolds, the CDC and individual states are urging hunters to test game animals for CWD. The consumption of infected meat poses a significant, yet often underestimated, risk to public health.

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