Indiana Becomes 33rd U.S. State to Detect ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ – A Growing Wildlife Health Concern

Posted by

Indiana authorities reported their first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a deer, making it the 33rd state to confirm wildlife with the affliction known as “zombie deer disease” due to the odd behaviors displayed by affected animals.

Related posts

The diseased animal in Indiana, a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken in LaGrange County during deer season, was identified on April 5, as per the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“The agency has stated that currently, there are no management strategies proven to cure CWD in deer, prevent infection, significantly halt its spread, or eliminate the disease from the deer population,” said the department. “This holds particularly true for areas like LaGrange County, where the presence of the disease was anticipated, given the proximity to CWD-positive cases in Michigan.”

Discovered first in Colorado during the 1960s, CWD is caused by a misfolded protein known as a prion, affecting the nervous systems of deer, elk, and moose.

Symptoms in afflicted animals include lethargy, unsteady movement, excessive drooling, severe weight loss, and eventual death.

The US CDC cautions hunters against targeting sick or already deceased deer, those exhibiting unusual behaviors, and recommends processing wild game meat using gloves and adhering to hygiene protocols.

It also encourages hunters to consult state advisories and utilize available resources to test their game meat if feasible.

Residents in Indiana are invited to contact the DNR’s Deer Disease Hotline at 844-803-0002 for inquiries.

CWD is transmissible among deer through direct contact, bodily fluids, and contaminated environments, and can persist in the soil of an area for years once introduced.

The disease has also been observed in wildlife across neighboring states to Indiana, such as Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky.

“To this point, there is no compelling evidence of CWD affecting humans, and it remains uncertain whether CWD prions can infect people,” states the CDC.

Investigations include a study of two hunters who consumed meat from infected deer and were later found to have a rare and deadly brain disease, though researchers determined further investigation is necessary to explore a possible connection.

Share this:
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments