Fatal Disease is Attacking California Wildlife


Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurological illness affecting cervids like deer and elk, has made its ominous debut in California.

The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently confirmed the presence of CWD in deer from Madera and Inyo counties, marking the first documented cases in the Golden State.

The discovery, announced on May 7, shows the concerning spread of this disease, which has now been detected in 34 states.

Symptoms of CWD include weight loss, coordination difficulties, excessive thirst, behavioral changes, and ultimately, death. Alarmingly, there is no cure or vaccine available.

Originating from a captive deer in a Colorado research facility in the 1960s, CWD has since spread across the United States, posing a significant threat to deer and elk populations. Once established in an area, CWD can persist in the environment for years, making containment challenging.

While there is currently no evidence of CWD transmission to humans, caution is urged, especially given the parallels with other prion diseases like BSE, or mad cow disease.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that if CWD were to infect humans, it would likely occur through the consumption of infected deer or elk.

In response to this development, the CDFW emphasizes the importance of vigilance among hunters and the public.

Hunters are urged to test harvested deer and elk for CWD before consumption.

Additionally, the public is encouraged to report any signs of illness in deer and elk populations.

This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 10 May 2024. Image Credit :David Osborn/Shutterstock.

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