"Zombie deer disease," officially known as chronic wasting disease, has been found in Yellowstone National Park for the first time.
This week, National Park Service officials confirmed the disease in the carcass of an adult mule deer buck near Yellowstone Lake in the park's southeast area after conducting multiple tests to confirm its presence.
While the disease has been present in most of Wyoming since the mid-1980s, it has never previously been detected within the confines of the park.
To curb the spread of CWD in Yellowstone, officials say they will increase collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to intensify monitoring of CWD in wildlife and enhance investigations and sample collection from carcasses, as there is no way to effectively eradicate the disease once it’s established.
This fatal disease affects deer, elk, and moose and is caused by an abnormal protein called prion. It has no known treatment or vaccine, and it's often referred to as "Zombie deer disease" because it leads to physiological and behavioral changes, emaciation, and death as the malformed prion accumulates in the brain and other tissues.
While park officials say there is currently no evidence that the disease can infect humans or pets, they do recommend not consuming any tissue or meat from infested animals.
Additionally, they urge the public to promptly contact a park employee if they come across sick or deceased wildlife and to avoid touching the animals.
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