Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a viral neurological illness that affects elk, moose, reindeer, deer, and sika deer. It was first discovered in captive mule deer in Colorado, USA, in the late 1960s. Since then, CWD has geographically spread and been found in both wild and captive cervids in places like North America, South Korea, Norway, and Finland. It causes brain degeneration, which results in loss of physiological functioning, undesirable behaviors, emaciation (thinness), and death. CWD is a deadly disease; once infected, there’s no chance of recovery or treatment.
There have been no confirmed human cases of CWD infection to date. Some non-human primates, like monkeys, may be at risk for CWD if they consume meat from infected animals or come into contact with the brain or bodily fluids of sick deer or elk, according to certain animal studies.