I recently reported that officials are worried about a "brain-eating disease" currently spreading in Texas amongst the animal population. Unfortunately, I have bad news. The outbreak has recently worsened, and case numbers are quickly spiraling out of control.
According to The Houston Chronicle, "An ongoing epidemiological investigation has found at least 30 positive cases for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer at six Texas deer breeding facilities."
The Texan outbreak is unparalleled, and local officials are extremely worried about its impact on the local deer population. After all, direct animal-to-animal contact, contact with saliva, urine, or feces from infected animals, and even soil contaminated with any of the aforementioned bodily tissues or fluids are thought to transfer the deadly CWD disease between animals. Quoting the U.S. Geological Survey:
"Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal, neurological illness occurring in North American cervids (members of the deer family), including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. Since its discovery in 1967, CWD has spread geographically and increased in prevalence locally. CWD is contagious; it can be transmitted freely within and among cervid populations. No treatments or vaccines are currently available."
According to the CDC, "The infection is believed to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions, which are thought to cause damage to other normal prion proteins that can be found in tissues throughout the body but most often in the brain and spinal cord, leading to brain damage and development of prion diseases."
In essence, CWD affects the central nervous system of Cervids (white-tailed deer, American elk, moose, and woodland caribou, etc.) and has an extremely high fatality rate in animals. But right now, there is no direct threat to humans. However, the disease mustn't get into the food chain via the consumption of an infected carcass. So, if you see an animal displaying some of the following symptoms, it might be worth calling Texas Parks and Wildlife to identify appropriate next steps.
What do you think about the worsening outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease in Texas? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.
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