"A lot of the concern [about chronic wasting disease] is based on something that occurred years ago", Ryan Maddox, Ph.D., epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News.
In the case of CWD, which can lie dormant for many years before any symptoms arise, infected animals show symptoms of weight loss, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, thirst, and urination, and ataxia. They also believe that even after an infected deer or elk has passed, the CWD prions remain in the environment, resulting in other animals contracting the disease.
"So the Zombie apocalypse is starting with a disease in their brain".
According to the CDC, this disease is present in at least 24 states in the United States and two provinces in Canada. That's how the disease ended up in South Korea, Larsen explained. There are no signs till now of spreading wasting disease in humans, but it is assumed that soon it can spread. There have also been cases of this disease in Norway and Finland through the reindeer and moose populations.
Osterholm compared the situation to the mad cow disease that killed cattle in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. There may be even more cases that we do not yet know about.
The most exposed to zombie deer disease are those who use to eat deer meat, the experts say. "It's possible the number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events". Despite the results of this research, the CDC stresses that there is now no strong evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, or even if it is possible for us to become infected with CWD prions. However, the CDC has warned the public to test venison or elk meat for CWD before eating it from areas with documented infections. As more infected meat is consumed, Osterholm said the risk of the disease crossing over and infecting humans could also increase. Regardless, proper precautions should be taken in areas where this disease is common. If you do decide to eat the meat, they suggest getting it tested before doing so.