SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Animals with a disease known as “Zombie Deer” have been reported in 17 Illinois counties, as well as 23 other states, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“All it could do was walk in circles. I got real close to it and it couldn’t walk away,” Doug Schmidgall, a local hunter, said.
The illness, called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), was reported in free-ranging deer, elk and/or moose, something Schmidgall has seen through his years as a hunter.
“I came up and got a gun and shot it and I told the conservation police what I’d done and why and they said to bury it,” Schmidgall said.
The CDC said hunters should have all their meat tested before they consume any animals they kill.
But Schmidgall said the warning isn’t stopping him.
“I eat the meat. I had a few deer steaks just a few days ago – I like mine a little bit rare,” Schmidgall said.
If the disease could spread to people, it would most likely be through eating the infected deer or elk.
“I’ve been eating this stuff as long as I can remember. I’m almost 60-years-old and it has not killed me yet,” Schmidgall said.
Scientists believe the disease likely spreads between animals through their bodies, either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food or water.
The “Zombie Deer” were reported in the following Illinois counties: Boone, Carroll, Dekalb, DuPage, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will and Winnebago.
For more information, visit the CDC’s website.