While it may sound like a B-grade horror movie plot, increasing numbers of zombie deer have animal pathologists and health officials on alert. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is in the same family of neurodegenerative diseases as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, and leaves deer stumbling, listless, salivating and disoriented.
The disease stems from abnormal prion proteins. Prion diseases are fatal, and can jump from species to species, including to humans. CWD has already reached a large deer population in Pennsylvania. Penn Vet and the rest of the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System are working to test non-captive deer and provide diagnostic information for disease prevention.
Read the full story at Penn One Health.