CDC warns hunters about deer with tuberculosis

Warning issued after Michigan hunter diagnosed with bTB

Kristen A. Schmitt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning after a Michigan hunter was exposed to tuberculosis, a bacterial disease that affects the respiratory system, after field dressing a deer. The CDC report was issued on Sept. 20 after the man “who had no exposure to people with tuberculosis was diagnosed with the disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis,” NBC-12 reports.

“The patient had rheumatoid arthritis and was taking 5 mg prednisone daily; he had no history of travel to countries with endemic tuberculosis, no known exposure to persons with tuberculosis, and no history of consumption of unpasteurized milk,” the CDC report said.

As a result, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) says hunters should check for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in deer this season. According to NBC-12, about 900 of over 230,000 deer tested positive for bTB in 2017 and 78% of the infected deer were found in Montgomery, Alpena, Oscada and Alcona Counties. Antrim, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Iosco, Mecosta, Osceola, Otsego, Roscommon and Shiawassee counties.

CDC warns hunters about deer with tuberculosis - 0

MDNR uses hunting to help manage bTB in Michigan; however, this new warning creates a necessity to handle all deer with caution. Anyone handling a deer in Michigan should definitely wear gloves when field dressing the animal.

Not sure what bTB looks like in a deer? Here are some tips from MDNR on what to look for when field-dressing a deer:

  • Lymph nodes in the animal's head usually show infection first and, as the disease progresses, lesions may begin to develop on the surface of the lungs and chest cavity. In severely infected deer, lesions can sometimes be found throughout the animal's entire body.

  • Deer with severe bTB may have tan or yellow lumps lining the chest wall and in the lung tissue.

  • Deer showing this type of infection should be submitted to the MDNR for laboratory testing.

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