Deer infected with tuberculosis can pass it to hunters, CDC warns
JAKE PRINSEN | GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE | 11:29 am CDT September 27, 2019
Hunters can contract a form of tuberculosis from deer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency published a report last week that looks at a 2017 case from Michigan in which a 77-year-old man was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis caused by mycobacterium bovis.
The man had no known exposure to a person with tuberculosis and did not drink unpasteurized milk, but he did hunt and field-dress deer for 20 years, according to the CDC. Field-dressing is removing the organs of an animal after they’ve been killed.
To prevent exposure, CDC officials recommend hunters wear protective gear while field-dressing animals. They also said if a deer head is submitted for tuberculosis testing and is positive for the disease, the hunter should be screened.
The strain of tuberculosis, or bovine TB, is found in cattle, bison, elk and deer. The man lived in the northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, a region with a low amount of human tuberculosis diagnoses, but many deer test positive.
The CDC report says the man may have inhaled the bacteria that causes tuberculosis while he was field-dressing a deer. Officials don’t know when it happened, but the infection might have reactivated in 2017.
There had been several cases of the same type of tuberculosis being found in humans in Michigan. One occurred in 2004, when a hunter had a finger injury suffered while field-dressing a deer, and another happened in 2002 when experts believed the hunter breathed in the bacteria while field-dressing a carcass