A cure for Chronic Wasting Disease? Not so fast

(WVLT) -- By now, many people have heard about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a disease that has impacted deer, elk and moose across the country.

The disease causes damage to portions of the brain, creating holes in the brain cells and causing a sponge-like appearance. Animals with the disease are typically emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions, become weak and then eventually die.

As of mid-February, 185 deer had tested positive for CWD in Tennessee, all in west Tennessee counties.

So far, there is no known cure, but TWRA says rumors of a cure have circulated. According to a post on the agency's Facebook page, a sportsmen's group in Pennsylvania claimed that the disease was caused by Spiroplasma, not prions as research has previously stated.

The group "has committed funding to support the bacteria theory research to develop testing kits and a cure for CWD," TWRA said. TWRA said it stands with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study's position that the disease is caused by prions.

It's possible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for it to affect humans. TWRA says that, to their knowledge, humans can't get the disease from infected deer, but the CDC recommends not eating potentially infected deer meat.