Deer Disease Reporting Raises Alarms

Two American hunters may be the first human casualties of the dreaded Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), colloquially known in some areas as “zombie deer disease,” after reportedly consuming infected venison. The story’s shock value is amplified by a study presented in the medical journal Neurology which is leading to widespread fears about the potential for the disease to cross species barriers from deer to humans.

One of the deceased, a 72-year-old man, displayed severe neurological symptoms such as rapid-onset confusion and aggressive behavior, culminating in his death within a month. His condition was posthumously identified as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a fatal brain disorder related to prion diseases like CWD. His hunting companion succumbed under similar circumstances, raising the specter of a direct link to CWD-infected venison.

While the study suggests a possible transmission from deer to humans, it has not conclusively proven such a connection. The findings highlight the necessity for further research into how CWD could potentially impact human health. As the disease continues to affect wildlife across at least 32 states and several countries, the implications of a crossover are significant, urging caution and rigorous testing protocols among hunting communities.

Despite these findings, the scientific community remains skeptical. Experts stress that the evidence linking the hunters’ deaths directly to CWD is insubstantial. The National Deer Association (NDA) has pointed out the speculative nature of these claims. Even though CWD has become prevalent in much of North America and is harming the deer population greatly, there is no concrete evidence to confirm transmission from deer to humans.

“There are clusters of CJD throughout the country — some in CWD areas and some outside CWD areas,” stated Jim Heffelfinger, a wildlife science coordinator. He said the alarmist tone of the reporting could be misleading, as the public should have a clear explanation of the complex nature of prion diseases.

Unfortunately, the sensational reporting by some corporate media outlets can easily trigger unnecessary fears about the safety of venison meat. Some reports grossly oversimplify the nuances and uncertainty about how the disease can be transmitted. While the theoretical risk exists, hard evidence is lacking. Of course, any story that enhances fear and distrust around hunting or shooting sports goes to serve the corporate media’s narrative that any private activity involving firearms should be either discouraged or outright banned.

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