'Zombie Deer Disease' Spreads As Maryland National Parks Report First Cases

By Bill Galluccio

March 6, 2024

Roe deer with mange
Photo: xalanx / iStock / Getty Images

A deadly brain disease among deer is spreading across the country, with officials in Maryland reporting the first cases ever in National Parks in the state. Officials said that two white-tailed deer at Antietam and Monocacy national battlefields tested positive for what is known as chronic wasting disease, or "zombie deer disease."

National parks in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., work together to monitor animals for chronic wasting disease. This is the first year they have found animals infected with the disease.

The disease causes "drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness and other neurologic symptoms," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is fatal to animals, and there is no known cure or vaccination against the disease.

The disease has infected deer, elk, reindeer, and moose in 32 states across the country, Canada, Norway, and South Korea.

There have been no reports of the disease spreading to humans, though studies suggest it poses a risk to non-human primates that eat meat from an infected animal.

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