Silent Spread: Chronic Wasting Disease Confirmed in Indiana

The unfortunate news of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) occurring in Indiana has alarmed residents, as it is a terminal disorder that affects deer, elk, and cervids. CWD is often called “zombie deer disease” and can prove to be detrimental to the populations of wild animals besides posing a direct threat to human health, conservation of wildlife and economy. The presence of CWD recently confirmed in Indiana however, underscores the significance of diligent surveillance, tracking, and control actions to limit its transmission and the adverse effects.

Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), is a neurological disorder that affects the brains and nervous systems of hoofed ungulate animals, including deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. The sickness is caused by abnormal prion proteins that pile up in the brain making a progressive neurological decay ending with death. Signs of CWD include unhealthy state like the weight loss, suspicious behaviors, excessive salivation and balance failure, hence the term “zombie deer disease.”

The CWD gets transmitted either through direct bodily fluid contact with the infected animals or any contamination of the environment. The animals carrying this disease shed prions in all bodily fluids, such as urine, feces and saliva, thereby polluter soil, plants and water sources. Transmission of CWD is one of the most extreme cases of the infection rate that results in devastating effects to wildlife health and ecosystem diversity.

Confirmation in Indiana: Implications for Wildlife and Beyond

Indiana’s recent confirmation of Chronic Wasting Disease as a new territory for the propagation of this deadly disease provides a milestone in the increasing and expanding spread of this disease across North America. When we talk about CWD in a state for the fist time, we are worrying about its possible influence on wild animals population, as well as about the risk of human exposure, via the infected meat.

While the ecological impact is apparent, the economic consequences of CWD for hunting and wildlife management shouldn’t be overlooked. Harvesting of infected deers and elk may experience drop in numbers and impregnation frequency that will affect hunting opportunities as well as revenue from hunting licenses and tourism.

Finally, the possibility of human contamination of the ruminants brain proteins or prions by consuming their infected meats causes worries of food safety and health. No data indicating at this point of time that the CWD is transmissible to humans is available, however, the health departments suggest caution while dressing and eating deer or elk hunted in areas where this disease is known to occur.

Surveillance and Management Strategies

In response to the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease in Indiana, the wildlife authority and conservation organizations in the state have deployed surveillance and management techniques to be able to contain the spread of the affliction. These components involve the increase of surveillance of deer and elk populations, targeted killings of the elephants that are sick, as well as the introduction of regulations to limit the movement and the spreading of the virus into the neighborhood.

More importantly, researchers are intensively striving to unravel the transmission mechanism and the pathogenesis and ultimately to devise strategies that foster CWD prevention and control. Such approach may include research of vaccines, test equipment(s) and wildlife management plan as a measure to reduce the effect of CWD on the populations of wildlife and ecosystems.

Public Awareness and Education

Despite this knowledge about chronic wasting disease prevention, effective public awareness and education programs are still a crucial element in the struggle to eradicate its consequences. Humanitarian, sport pursuit, animal lovers and general public are key people who will hinder the spread of CWD through adherence to the best practices and concerned procedures.

Educational campaigns are designed to make sure that people know that CWD communications may be spread from one animal to another, and the correct ways of disposing of carcasses and reporting the sick or abnormal animals to the concerned authorities. Through education and encouragement of preventative measures that facilitate slowing the spread of CWD, communities can promote this conservation effort by protecting the wildlife and public health.


In summary the sampling of tissues tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease illustrates the expanding threat of this disease to wildlife, ecosystem and social health. Vigilant surveillance, monitoring, and management initiatives are crucial towards curbing the spread of CWD and preserving the deer populations as well as the community. As a community, we could be able to join forces and take deliberate and knowledgeable actions to tackle CWD’s threats for the conservation of our natural environments and ecological integrity.