New Concerns Over ‘Zombie Infection’ Jumping To Humans Prompt Warnings
For most, the idea of a zombie apocalypse is nothing more than conspiracy theory and science-fiction movie narrative. However, an old brain-eating illness previously thought to be confined to the animal kingdom may now be ready to “make the jump” to humans.
The disease is called Chronic Wasting Disease. Parts of Colorado have a dense presence of the illness, particularly in Elk.
And that’s an issue for local residents. Many people in Colorado choose to hunt for their dinner. The logic being that wild, free-range animals are a healthier option than meat found at the grocery store. And that’s true. However, Chronic Wasting Disease is potentially throwing a wrench into common thought.
The deadly neurological disorder is found in moose, deer, and elk. It slowly eats the brain. It’s exactly the zombie nightmare, similar in scope to Mad Cow disease. CWD was first discovered in 1967 in the Fort Collins area. Today, it is found in animals throughout Canada, Norway, South Korea, and the United States.
What’s more is that there has never been a human case.
That should bode well for us, however, a new Canadian study is prompting concern that conventional science may be going out the door.
As a precaution, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is requesting that hunters test their kills for the ailment. As well, they are telling hunters to be cautious about killing/eating animals that don’t seem healthy.
Some hunters are not respecting the CPW warning.
“The deer was a big healthy animal and there was a really low percentage [of CWD] in the area,” Patrick States, a hunter in the Craig, Colorado area, said regarding one of his kills. “It’s just not something I worry about.”
But others feel hunters like States are taking a severely dangerous approach.
“The vast majority of the time hunters find out their animal has CWD, they’re shocked, because it looked great,” Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance in Fort Collins says. “It was moving just like everything else. It had great body fat.”
CWD is a slow-moving illness. This means that many animals simply won’t display the effects in the first couple of years.
Another issue is that scientists simply haven’t proven that CWD can jump from animal to human through ingested meat of an infected animal. In other words, people aren’t respecting the warnings, they view them as fear-mongering.
Chronic Wasting Disease Spreads Via Proteins – And It Could Evolve
As it stands, CWD is transferred from animal to animal via “misfolded proteins,” or what’s known as prions. The prions are restricted in terms of where they can replicate and transfer, hence, right now CWD is only in animals. But like the similar ailment Mad Cow, which began jumping from animal to human in the 80s, these prions can evolve. And when they do, CWD is likely to infect humans and pose a pandemic or outbreak threat.
Scientists who authored the Canadian study found that CWD was able to transfer from infected meat to a monkey. This is what is now prompting concerns.
One researcher, Mark Zabel, who is the associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University, says that CWD is only 50 years old and believes that “it’s only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans.”
What the future holds in terms of a potential “zombie apocalypse” remains a mystery. But mounting evidence now suggests that the potential is a lot more real than we often accept.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.