Elk NetworkCOVID-19 for Humans vs. CWD for Wildlife

General | May 7, 2020

As humans deal with a coronavirus pandemic, wildlife continues to deal with a deadly disease of its own.

COVID-19 spread from one corner of the world across the globe in a matter of months due to coughing, sneezing or even talking. They try to slow its spread by limiting contact or going into isolation.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects deer, elk, moose, reindeer and sitka deer in parts of the United States, Canada, Norway and South Korea. It is transmitted across the landscape via urine, feces and saliva at a much slower pace.

“CWD and COVID-19 appear to spread in contagious diffusion, outward from a source or initial infection,” said Courtney Colley, Pennsylvania Game Commission CWD communication specialist, told the York Dispatch. “With CWD, when human behaviors are not contributing, it is slow progressing, but (with) human-related movements you can see it jump 100 miles in a month. The same with COVID-19, people flying to new countries or the type of ability we have to move great distances, we’re increasing the progression.”

Unlike COVID-19, CWD for wildlife is always fatal.

(Photo source: Pennsylvania Game Commission)