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Does CWD Affect Humans?

Jenn Smith

Posted on November 25 2019

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease in deer that affects members of the cervid family. It is contagious to elk, deer and moose. With deer hunting season opening throughout the country, deer hunters want to know if eating infected deer with Chronic Wasting Disease will have damaging effects on humans. 

Chronic Wasting Disease is thought to be a new age type of Mad Cow Disease. While there have not been reported cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in humans, making them sick, hunters and food junkies are advised to avoid eating infected deer meat. This comes after scientists gave infected deer meat to monkeys that caught the fatal deer disease. 

Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease may be easier to spot than healthy deer. Infected deer will appear weak, with bones sticking out of their sides, wobbly, and un-phased by human activity. They essentially walk around like zombies (hence the term zombie deer disease) and eventually die. 

Deer hunters should test carcasses for Chronic Wasting Disease before eating deer that were shot. If eating infected deer meat, don't fret: 7000-15000 individuals eat infected deer meat each year according to wildlife experts.