It feels like something out of "The Walking Dead," or "The Last of Us," but in fact, there are real-life zombies, some in Michigan. White Tail Deer have been known to catch a disease, often referred to as a "zombie" disease, in the fall and winter.

Now, scientists believe that this "zombie" disease actually has the capability to jump to humans, and Michigan isn't immune to this happening.

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What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

The "Zombie Deer" disease is actually called "Chronic Wasting Disease," and typically impacts numerous white tail deer and elk in the United States every year. It's also 100% fatal to the animals.

It targets the nervous system of the animals, causing their brains to deteriorate in a distinctive, "spongy" manner, which leads to weight loss, unusual actions, loss of body functions, and eventually death.

The Michigan Department of National Resources says the disease is neither bacterial, nor viral, but is actually spread with prions.

"Prions are proteins that are believed to be capable of causing infections, even though they lack the nucleic acids usually found in infections agents."

The DNR often asks hunters to keep an eye out for deer exhibiting symptoms, and as of the end of white tail season, at least a dozen counties in Michigan returned positive results on deer around the central part of the lower peninsula, and in parts of the Upper Peninsula.

Deer with signs of Chronic Wasting Disease
Wikipedia
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Can Chronic Wasting Disease Spread to Humans?

So far, it hasn't happened. Humans have remained in the clear when it comes to CWD. However, the reason entities like the DNR, and the Centers for Disease Control are so active in tracking the disease is to keep it from even possibly happening.

Recent studies by the CDC show that while humans are very unlikely to catch the disease straight from the deer or elk, non-human primates, like monkeys, could potentially contract it by eating meat from animals who are infected, or even come into direct contact with brain tissue, or bodily fluids from the animals.

Michigan isn't the only state to see the "Zombie Deer" disease, though. Yellowstone National Park is currently dealing with what they're calling an epidemic of the disease. There, they've also found it in potentially 10-15% of the Mule Deer population.

Most Deadly/Dangerous Animals In Michigan

If you see any of these animals... best to just walk away.

Gallery Credit: Wikipedia

Update: More Animals Added to Michigan's Year-Round Hunting List

The Michigan DNR has added the following animals to the state's year-round hunting list. Land owners may kill these animals on their property with no special permits required.

Gallery Credit: Lauren Gordon

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