If Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) were not enough, now we deer hunters need to know about another disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a 77-year-old Michigan man was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. He had no known contact with any human infected with TB, but he had hunted and field-dressed deer for decades. Many deer test positive for bovine TB in the northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan where the man lived and hunted.
The CDC says the man may have inhaled the bacteria that causes tuberculosis while he was gutting a deer. Officials don’t know when that might have happened, but the infection might have reactivated in 2017.
Turns out this is not the first time TB has showed up in Michigan hunters. In 2004, a hunter cut his finger while field-dressing a deer and apparently contracted TB. In 2002, the CDC believes another hunter breathed in the bacteria while dressing a deer.
It is unclear how widespread TB in deer is in Michigan, and others states for that matter, but we need to be aware of the potential threat. I am going to research this topic more and will provide further updates.
To prevent exposure to TB, CDC officials recommend hunters wear protective field-dressing gloves, which is a good idea no matter where you hunt. If you kill a deer in or near an area where TB has been confirmed in deer (or cattle) you should also wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
If you kill a doe or buck in an area where TB has been reported in deer, you should submit the head for TB testing. If the results come back positive, the hunter should be screened for TB.