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'Zombie Deer' Disease Detected In Tennessee Deer, Authorities On Alert

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A white-tailed deer is now confirmed to have Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) or what’s also known as the zombie deer disease. Authorities are now on high alert to ensure the health and safety of other deer.

Chronic Wasting Disease In Tennessee

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is currently enacting the Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan after a white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD in Hardeman and Fayette counties. Specifically, seven deer in Fayette County and three deer in Hardeman County preliminarily tested positive for CWD, but additional samples are being tested.

In response, the agency, as well as the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and other partners are on alert to manage the disease. Deer hunters will also be encouraged to submit their deer for testing, and everyone is encouraged to follow the proper regulations for harvesting deer.

“Hunters are our biggest ally in managing chronic wasting disease in Tennessee if it is confirmed here,” said wildlife veterinarian Dr. Dan Grove.

'Zombie Disease'

CWD is a disease that primarily affects deer, elk, sika deer, and moose and has been found in Canada, North America, South Korea, and Norway. Its symptoms will not typically develop during the extended incubation period of 18 to 24 months, but when it does, some of its symptoms are rather “zombie-like” because the infected deer may experience drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness, decreased social interaction, excessive salivation, loss of awareness, and loss of fear of humans.

CWD is the most significant threat to the worldwide deer population because it is 100 percent fatal to elk and deer. Twenty-five states as well as three Canadian provinces have so far documented CWD.

So far, there is no evidence of CWD jumping to humans. However, there are some studies that suggest that it can pose a risk to non-human primates if they consume infected deer meat or come in contact with the infected bodily fluids.

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