An illness in animals known as “zombie deer disease” has been reported in 24 states, including Pennsylvania, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was found in free-ranging deer, elk and moose across the country and in two Canadian provinces last month.
Animals carrying the disease take on a zombie-like stare, become gaunt and their rib cages become exposed.
The disease is most commonly found in Rocky Mountain states but also shows up in other areas.
In Pennsylvania, Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Clearfield and Fulton counties reported infected animals.
The CDC says hunters should test all game before eating it. When field-dressing a deer, the CDC recommends wearing latex or rubber gloves, avoiding handling the animal’s organs — particularly the brain and spinal cord tissues, and not using household knives or other kitchen utensils for field dressing.
You can check with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to see if testing is available.
To date, the CDC says there’s no strong evidence of the disease spreading to people but if it did, it would most likely happen through the eating of infected meat.
Experts say the disease can remain in the environment for a long time, so other animals can get it.