Zombie Deer Disease may spread to humans, scientists warn

Chronic Wasting Disease, popularized as "Zombie Deer Disease", leaves the animals drooling, lethargic and ultimately dead. It's caused by prions–misfolding and replicating proteins that turn brains into sponges-and like Mad Cow Disease before it, it may spread to humans.

In the US and Canada, CWD has gained attention not only because it affects big-game animals but also because of the possibility that it could jump the species barrier. Deer, elk and moose could infect livestock, other mammals, birds or even humans. Epidemiologists say the absence of a "spillover" case yet does not mean it will not happen. CWD is one of a cluster of fatal neurological disorders that includes BSE.

"The BSE [mad cow] outbreak in Britain provided an example of how, overnight, things can get crazy when a spillover event happens from, say, livestock to people," Anderson says. "We're talking about the potential of something similar occurring. No one is saying that it's definitely going to happen, but it's important for people to be prepared."

Wolves are our friends. They apparently will identify and kill animals suffering from it without spreading the disease.

Some scientists say that the predators are essential to curbing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease because they pick off weak deer.