Keystone Oaks School District News Article

Zombie Deer Return in Time for Halloween

Grab some popcorn and get ready for a zombie story except these zombies are real.  Discovered in a Colorado research facility in the late 1960’s, a disease was found called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) or better known as the zombie deer virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that  “Chronic Wasting Disease is a progressive, fatal disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and many other tissues of farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose.” The effects that it has on the animal are drastic weight loss, stumbling, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, and lack of fear of people. When an animal is infected it may take months or years to start to show signs of the disease. Scientists still have yet to confirm if it can infect humans as people may eat infected meat and not have effects for a while.  It is also possible to be immune to it and has no effects.  ”Unknown as of now” said one of the Keystone Oaks High School teachers, as to what the long term effects are on humans.
It is spread to animals through eating contaminated plants, drinking contaminated water, or coming in contact with contaminated tissue or bodily fluids. Since the 2000s there have been sightings in at least 24 states, with the highest populations being in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Utah. They have also been found outside of the U.S.
“The illness does not actually turn deer into “zombies,”  and the term “zombie deer” is an inaccurate, non-scientific misnomer to describe the confounding disease,” said Dr. Osterholm on the website, www.independent.co.uk.  
Closer to home, in an article by Mark Schneck on Pennlive.com, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, since last year 123 deer have tested positive for the always fatal brain disease in deer.  “Both CWD and mad cow are thought to be caused by proteins that malfunction and misfold, called prions. There is no known cure or treatment for prion diseases, and no tst for it in living animals.”
In an interview with Mr. Oestreich ,Keystone Oaks Robotics High School teacher he said “I feel it will completely destroy the deer population because once they get infected there is no cure for it. Then officials would go through deer killed during rifle season to help keep it under control and stop it spreading.” Mr. Oestreich thinks the government is not doing a good job in containing the virus, primarily due to budgetary reasons, and fears that it will eventually spread to our area.
“The disease is in Pennsylvania, and with the high deer population in Pittsburgh, it might spread here in the future if it keeps continuing,” said Keystone Oaks High School freshman, Hemant Thapa.
Bottom line, for those who love venison. Eat with caution.

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