Tuberculosis is an airborne disease, not contracted from eating the meat of the infected animal. It is believed the individual became infected when inhaling while field dressing the deer.
Of course, this is not the first disease hunters’ have been warned to look out for in their query. Chronic Wasting Disease is probably the most notorious with a wider spread across America’s deer population. Elk have also been tested positive for brucellosis in the Rocky Mountain states.
The difference, however, is that there is no recorded case on file where a human being has contracted CWD or brucellosis from a deer or elk. As a side bar, state Game and Fish Departments encourage you to have animals tested where CWD is present. Tubes for blood samples are generally issued for elk where there is a possibility of brucellosis.
So exactly what is tuberculosis? According to medlineplus.org “Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks. If you have been exposed, you should go to your doctor for tests. You are more likely to get TB if you have a weak immune system.”
Symptoms of TB in the lungs may include:
- A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing up blood or mucus
- Weakness or fatigue
- Night sweats
The CDC has warned hunters to take precautions when taking care of your game in the field. It is generally a good idea to wear latex gloves when field dressing your animal. In addition, in areas where deer may be affected by Tuberculosis, a mask to prevent transmission is best practice.
What are your thoughts on this hunter contracting TB? Have you worried about contracting a disease while field dressing an animal?