New York

New York Has ‘Aggressive' Response Plan to ‘Zombie Disease' Threat

What to Know

  • The CDC reports Chronic Wasting Disease or the "zombie disease" in deer, elk and moose has spread to 24 states.
  • New York has put in an array of measures to protect the state and its wildlife from the disease.
  • It is called the zombie disease because infected animals become emaciated, uncoordinated, and unafraid of people or other animals.

An animal illness known as "zombie disease" -- with symptoms such as a lack of fear and drooling -- has spread across 24 states, but New York is assuring residents it has an array of measures in place to protect the state and its wildlife.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) affects deer, elk and moose and is untreatable, the Center for Disease Control says. It is known as the "zombie disease" because infected animals become emaciated, uncoordinated, unafraid of people or other animals-- and they even drool.

Though humans cannot get CWD from eating the meat of infected animals, the CDC says it is not known if people can carry its infectious agents, and strongly recommends testing deer and elk meat before eating it.

The disease has been reported in states including Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, but not New Jersey or Connecticut. New York has no reported CWD in any of its deer populations and the state plans to keep it that way.

“There is a whole plan that’s in place,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologist Kevin Hynes. The prevention plan comprises of prohibiting the import of elk and venison from CWD-observed areas, prohibiting deer feeding, increasing education and outreach, and keeping an aggressive response plan ready.

New York state’s last occurrence of CWD was in 2005, when a Sportsmen’s fest in Oneida County served CWD-infected meat.

A study following 81 exposed people published in 2014 found no adverse affects, but it noted in the conclusion that the disease “can incubate for multiple decades before the manifestation of clinical symptoms.”

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