Earlier this month and in the thick of deer season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that deer “can transmit certain strains of tuberculosis to hunters.”
The danger comes during the field-dressing process. Hunters can come into contact with the pathogen when removing infected organs from deer.
In 2017, a 77-year-old Michigan man contracted pulmonary tuberculosis caused by Mycobacteria, the bovine tuberculosis pathogen. The man had hunted deer in an area where at least two other deer hunters had also become infected with bovine tuberculosis.
Bison, deer, and elk are the most common carriers of the disease, since the pathogen has been nearly eradicated in dairy and beef cattle.
In humans, bovine tuberculosis manifests much like other forms of the disease, with symptoms including respiratory difficulties, chest pain, weight loss, and fever.
Though no cases of humans catching tuberculosis from deer have yet been reported in North Carolina, the CDC recommends that anyone field-dressing deer use protective equipment.