Between 1986 and 1998, more than 180,000 cattle in the United Kingdom were infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy; otherwise known as mad cow disease. Despite government efforts to reassure the public, the fatal neurodegenerative disease eventually mutated and spread to humans causing a world-wide panic… and inspiring a whole new sub-genre of outlandish zombie fiction.
In a recent article for EnviroNews, author Dan Zukowski identifies yet another prion disease rapidly spreading among the deer and elk of Wyoming. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal spongiform encephalopathy, appears to be heading towards Yellowstone National Park. And despite nearly ten million deer hunters in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are doing little to warn them of the potential danger to humans.
The disease is progressive and always fatal. The first signs are difficulties in movement. The most obvious and consistent clinical sign of CWD is weight loss over time. Behavioral changes also occur in the majority of cases, including decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, tremors, repetitive walking in set patterns, and nervousness. Excessive salivation and grinding of the teeth also are observed.
From drastic changes in behavior and tremors, to excessive salivation and teeth grinding; this epidemic has all the ingredients for a potentially disastrous zombie outbreak.
While more studies are needed to monitor any possible transmission to humans, many of these symptoms may seem frighteningly familiar to zombie fans. And if left unchecked, the spread of such a disease could easily lead to another mad-cow like outbreak… or worse.
For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease and Potential Transmission to Humans, please check out this report available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And to learn about the possible spread of CDW towards Yellowstone National Park among deer and elk, please read this article by author Dan Zukowski available online at EnviroNews.