Mysterious brain infection makes bears act "like friendly dogs"

Although cases of encephalitis are rare, the symptoms have made it quite easy to spot infected bears.

“The first bear I personally rescued was diagnosed with encephalitis in March of 2018,” Bryant told Live Science. “She walked into a school and entered a classroom where she sat down among the children, behaving very much like a friendly dog.”

In 2019, another infected bear was caught on video trying to climb onto a snowboard alongside its rider. The young male was eventually rescued after the snowboarder and his friends played with him and fed him sandwiches. However, friendly behavior doesn’t mean it’s safe for humans to be around the bears.

“Bears approaching people who might then treat the animal as if they are tame could easily present a danger,” Bryant said. “I would not be comfortable with a member of the public trying to handle one of these, or any, bears.”