Deer in at least 24 U.S. states infected with fatal chronic wasting disease

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in wild deer, elk or moose in at least 24 U.S. states, warned the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the weekend, advising people to avoid handling or eating potentially infected meat.

"Since 2000, the area known to be affected by CWD in free-ranging animals has increased to at least 24 states, including states in the Midwest, Southwest and limited areas on the East Coast," the CDC said.

No evidence currently could prove that the disease can spread to humans, but it could affect the central nervous system of animals and make them more aggressive and less afraid of human contact. Once infected, animals can show signs of drastic weight loss, lack of coordination and listlessness, the CDC said.

The CDC described the disease as "a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder," and it is passed between animals through bodily fluids.

It has an incubation period of over a year, with some animals not showing symptoms for years after being infected, the CDC said. But the disease is always fatal.

The disease was first found in captive deer in Colorado, the United States in the 1960s, and discovered in wild deer in 1981. Cases of the disease have also been reported in Canada, Norway and Finland. Enditem

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