(WSVN) - University of Minnesota experts are warning that a deadly disease that has affected the deer population in almost half the country could potentially be transmitted to humans.

According to Fox News, experts form the University of Minnesota spoke on the dangers of Chronic Wasting Disease: a fatal, neurological illness that effects deer, elk and moose.

Symptoms of the disease include drooling, stumbling, lack of coordination, lack of fear of people, aggression and listlessness

Currently there are no vaccines for the disease, which is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact or indirectly through contaminated drinking water or food.

So far, no cases of chronic wasting disease have been reported in humans. However, Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the illness should be treated as a public health issue.

Osterholm has also warned human cases of the disease will likely be “documented in the years ahead.”

“It is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead. It is possible that a number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events,” Osterholm told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Osterholm said the disease should be treated like mad cow disease, which public health officials had not initially believed could be transmitted to humans.

The CDC echoed Osterholm’s sentiments.

“Animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk,” the CDC wrote. “These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain.”

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