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Old July 20, 2014, 12:08 PM   #1
ezmiraldo
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Avoiding animal diseases and parasites when hunting for food

Hi guys!

I wanted to pick ya'll collective brain on the issue of how to avoid diseases/parasites of animals we hunt. What are some common diseases in deer, bear, elk, pig, and other common animals? How dangerous are they to hunters who eat what they hunt? How do you know if your animal is healthy to eat? Are there ways to do some sorts of tests? What resources (e.g., gov-t agencies) can we use to see if animals we hunt are safe to eat? I'm new to hunting, but it seems to me that because the meat from animals we hunt isn't going through FDA (or any such inspection/certification), there might be some special steps/considerations we, as hunters, need to be aware of. Please chime in with your thoughts. This topic has really been bugging me for a while, and I can't seem to find a good centralized resource that covers all the basics.

Thanks in advance!
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Old July 20, 2014, 01:17 PM   #2
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Good question.
Besides being very contagious. They say CWD effect's deer as well as cattle. Studies have shown both suffer the same outcome in short time. (die) Oh!!~~But scientist have said its OK to harvest and eat such infected animal. But if you've ever witnessed a deer or and elk or a hereford in its end stage having CWD. I doubt very much I myself am interested in eating such diseased animals. But maybe I am without knowing. As that 3-LB package of pink slime hamburger and that enticing chuck roast set for grilling today. Both packages look pretty good to me.
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Old July 20, 2014, 02:10 PM   #3
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the biggest two are tularemia and trichinosis. tularemia is found in rabbits and other small vermin, usually it dies in the cold months which is why you're only supposed to eat rabbit in late fall and winter.

trichinosis is a parasitic worm most commonly associated with poor pork farming habits but can be carried by wild hogs, bears and any scavenger or predator. it's pretty much been killed out of domestic stock but with bears it's still a major concern. according to the F&G official pulling my black bear molar last spring, the last confirmed case of trich in Idaho was actually from eating cougar which they later found out had recently eaten a dead black bear it happened upon. best way to kill trich is to make sure that that the meat reaches a core temp of at least 165.
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Old July 20, 2014, 03:02 PM   #4
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In the western United States, bubonic plague is always a possibility, particularly with rodents, varmints, rabbits/hares, squirrels, predators, and some furbearers.
It's best to avoid contact during warm months, and still wear gloves during cold months.


On the Atlantic coast, in particular, squirrels have been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ("mad cow") in more than 20 cases. Don't eat the brains, and avoid letting nervous tissue come in contact with meat.


Bluetongue gets a lot of attention and worry. But, it's supposed to be perfectly safe for humans to come in contact with and consume the meat (and be bitten by the midge vectors), as long as the animal doesn't appear sickly or have obvious health issues (tumors, lesions, etc.).


Pretty much any animal is susceptible to some kind of worm parasite. Aside from predators and pigs, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem across the country. But, I do know quite a few hunters in Alabama and Florida that lost every single deer they harvested in some years (swamp deer, in particular). The meat was so riddled with worms (or cysts from larvae) that they took everything to the dump, or back to the kill site and dumped it for scavengers. Most of the worms are safe to eat, once cooked, but the risk of infection from/during handling is fairly high.
Safe meat handling and keeping the carcass away from food prep areas are important.
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Old July 20, 2014, 03:27 PM   #5
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franken... only you could make a life long hunter go vegan
makes me glad I live in the north west. no mad cow, worms(asside from trich.) or other garbage to worry about. we did have isolated outbreaks of blue tongue over in MT where I grew up and had to wipe out entire herds of what little white tails we had(mostly muleys over there), but supposedly blue tongue is non-communicable to humans but I still wouldn't risk it myself.

last fall my little brother shot a deer with a gigantic puss sack inside the chest cavity, accidentally nicked it when trying to get the tenderloins out... I almost wanted to throw it away after that... not sure what caused it, likely a 22 from a poacher/Indian that proved non fatal and the sack formed around it.

I don't know what happened to our fisheries but all of the trout that have been transplanted in the local lakes in the last year have had serious issues, deformed gills and tumor like growths all over their bodies... I have yet to find anyone that's actually risked eating them... I've been using them as yellow jacket bait.
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Old July 20, 2014, 03:50 PM   #6
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A healthy deer can support a few ticks etc but if there are many it's a sign of an unhealthy animal and I wouldn't eat it.
I think more about those things today as I am in the middle of getting treated for Lyme disease [not hunting related] and it's a banner year here in the " hot spot " of Lyme !
Over population is a good way to spread disease ,something the " earth muffins" don't understand ! Some years back NYS had a special hunt for overpopulated deer in the Harriman State Park .But if you got one it counted on your license !! We meat hunters just laughed !!!
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Old July 20, 2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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1) don't take overtly unhealthy game
2) cook everything well
3) don't consume and minimize handling of all non-muscular reminants

There is a lot to be said for paying a skilled processor to render the animal IMHO.
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Old July 20, 2014, 04:28 PM   #8
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Since hunting in Wyoming, I have yet to find any ticks on the deer/antelope. I have seen them on the white tail deer in eastern Washington (Blue Mts) as big as my thumb nail. Total gross out. I was actually fleshing the hide and could hear them crunch under the blade. But when that big monster waddled out from under the skin, I was done!! Just walk away...drop tools on the way out of shop and head straight for a shot of schnapps. YUK!!

I have also witnessed the effects of Lymes Disease. A gent I worked with contracted it while hunting in the Blue Mountains. He missed months of work and when he did return to work he was a shell of the former man. Of anything in the world of parasites on the animals we hunt, the tick should be most feared and respected. All the others can be cooked with the meat and eaten without ill affect, except for meat tainted with the spinal fluid or brains in animals with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

I would not advocate the wasting of any meat harvested unless first contacting Fish and Game to present my case.

I totally agree with the concept of wearing gloves when harvesting fur bearing animals. The Plague is out there! Fleas being the carrier...
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Old July 20, 2014, 05:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
1) don't take overtly unhealthy game
2) cook everything well
3) don't consume and minimize handling of all non-muscular reminants
I've broken all of those.
1. leaving unhealthy animals to harvest the healthy ones is just leaving less healthy ones to reproduce and leaving an overall less healthy population, otherwise increasing the likely hood of even more disease.

2. rare elk steaks on the BBQ are AMAZING!

3. just try to get me to stop eating liver fried with beer and onions
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Old July 20, 2014, 08:07 PM   #10
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Tahunua , big joke ?
Lyme -- CDC thinks only 10% of those having it are treated !
CDC reports 4 deaths from Lyme
Lyme can easily cause permanent damage if untreated. Doctors wanting to specialize in Lyme are harassed by Gov't, insurance , medical establishment. Lyme is rapidly spreading .Mostly in the NE but now found in SE , LA, TX.
Take it seriously !!
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Old July 20, 2014, 08:28 PM   #11
tahunua001
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Lyme, is caused by tick bites, not eating meat. CDC clearly states this on their website. you are more likely to get infected by picking up ticks while field dressing than by eating raw meat infected with lyme bacteria.

it is also worth mentioning that there is no lyme up here, and west nile died out pretty quickly in my region. the active seasons of parasites like mosquitos and ticks are so short in my region that few diseases are prevalent here save rabies.
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Old July 20, 2014, 08:57 PM   #12
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I'm more concerned about West Nile from mosquito bites and Lyme from tick bites than I am about contracting CWD, EHD, Trich, or Tularemia from handling/eating game animals.
I highly recommend proper cooking of ANY meat(wild or domestic) but some like it half raw so make your choices and take your chances.
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Old July 20, 2014, 11:46 PM   #13
Lucas McCain
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CWD is not a bacteria and it is not a virus. CWD is a protein mutation called a "prion". It is an infectious prion that causes holes to develop in the brain similar to a sponge. It's classified as TSE ( Transferable Spongiform Enscephalitis)
CWD was first discovered in 1967 in Colorado, and it has spread since to other states. If a deer is infected they general suffer from extreme weight loss. CWD has not been found in animals that are younger than 3 years old. As far as why, research has not found out yet.

In cervids "deer, elk, antelope and moose its called CWD, for Chronic Wasting Disease.
In domestic sheep and goats it's called "Scrapies"
In domestic cattle it is called "Mad Cow Disease"
In humans it is called Cruzifeldts Jacobs Disease, and there are a couple other similar mutations that have been identified in the last decade.
It is believed that it cannot be transferred between different species due a biological barrier.

There has been quite a bit of research done on CWD, and although it wasn't all conclusive, it is thought that is is spread through urine, saliva and feces. That is one of the reasons when deer are feed, say corn out of a 5 gallon bucket, there is a good chance this disease could be spread. Its thought to be why it has been found mostly in farm raised cervids. Wyoming fish and wildlife has put CWD infected deer in with healthy cows and healthy deer and antelope. The cows never contacted it but the deer and antelope did.

The TSE disease is a horrible affliction. And one of the worst things about it is that there is such a great deal that we don't know about it. Therefore I think you should learn as much about this as possible to protect yourself. If you google up any of the above names you will be able to become aware of the information that is available on it.
When you process your deer you should not cut into the brain, the spinal cord or any of the bones exposing the spinal cord fluids and marrow. you don't want this stuff in the meat. Its best to learn how to bone the deer out without cutting the head off or any of the bones. The brain area is another place where it is found. If you do cut these areas have a dedicated tool to do it.
Also learn where the areas are where its known to be present, you may not want to hunt there.
In my state you are not allowed to bring any cervid skulls, bones and etc into the state from another state. Bringing the meat home from outstate is a huge hassle. Make sure you know the laws and regulations of your home state and the states your going to hunt in or travel through.
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Old July 21, 2014, 12:29 AM   #14
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There are many Game Management Units in Colorado designated as CWD areas.
The Division of Wildlife offers a program where the heads are dropped off for testing.Co DOW offers a video on their website someplace about boning the meat off the carcass at the kill,leaving the bones,brain,and spine in the field.I believe Nebraska has extensive CWD rules and guidelines.
A problem with the prion pathogen is,just about nothing kills it.Cooking will not do it.
Hospitals have had unfortunate transfer of Crutchfield-Jacobs disease when surgical instruments were cleaned and autoclaved.Its not enough.The tools get disposed of.
My answer,I'll eat animals I saw in one piece as healthy.I process my own.
Please do not consider me rude if I decline the deer sausage your taxidermist/game processor made for you.
Be aware,when your processor makes a 50 lb batch of sausage,it may be 15 lbs of your meat,12 lbs of Joes,18 lbs of that other guy's,and you do not know what the animal looked like or how the meat was handled.Your sausage may have 5 deer in it.I don't like the odds.

Go ahead and enjoy the liver ,IMO,but be advised elk carry liver fluke.Don't play the raw liver ritual.Cook it.Same goes for trout.

I might also add,if you choose to "age" your game meat,the same rules of safe food handling apply.I'm saying keep your meat below 40 deg f.Colder is better.So,if its 70 deg when you get your antelope,hanging in the barn a couple days is not a good plan.

Fleas:carry plague.Folks contract it in Colorado.Prairie dogs get it.The fleas may be on your rabbit or coyote.As it cools,they will jump to you.
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Old July 21, 2014, 08:15 AM   #15
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I have had Lyme disease 2x already. You never get rid of it, but once you have it you don't have to worry about getting it. Somebody mentioned the FDA. I am here to tell you that you would not believe what is considered safe.
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Old July 21, 2014, 08:52 AM   #16
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Nobody has mentioned brucellosis yet. That is a pretty nasty disease that is easily spread from an infected animal to a human - primarily in the cleaning process. It is particularly prevalent in wild hogs. It is because of brucellosis that experts recommend wearing gloves when cleaning animals.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:03 AM   #17
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Most state DNR/F&G agencies have very informative websites and are a most excellent source to get information about the game animals in your state and any health issues they may have, along with instructions of safe meat/carcass handling procedures. Information given there is generally the most up to date, most accurate and the most concise as compared to internet forum chatter. The posting of getting Lyme disease from undercooked meat in this thread is a clear example.(BTW, I've had it also) Most of the time, plain common sense is all that is needed. Most wild game processors use less precautions when butchering animals than us home processors do. Kinda why we do it ourselves.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:17 AM   #18
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Very interesting/sobering thread.

Quote:
When you process your deer you should not cut into the brain, the spinal cord or any of the bones exposing the spinal cord fluids and marrow.
Could this be an argument against using head/neck shots to kill the game?

Seems most people go for the thoracic cavity and a vitals hit in the lungs or heart, but I am sure some go for the head too.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:33 AM   #19
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i was just thinking the same: might be a good idea to avoid head/neck/spine shots...
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:40 AM   #20
buck460XVR
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Quote:
Originally posted by ezmiraldo: i was just thinking the same: might be a good idea to avoid head/neck/spine shots...
This is something our DNR says to avoid when hunting deer to prevent the spread of CWD. Even tho there is no evidence that CWD can be spread to humans, they still say to avoid these shots and to avoid the cutting into these areas. Commercial processors routinely use band saws to cut thru the spine on chops and the bone on round steaks. This procedure is not recommended.

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/handling.html

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabi...enison_CWD.pdf
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:43 AM   #21
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Quote:
There is a lot to be said for paying a skilled processor to render the animal IMHO.
And expose your well-cared for game to the risk of cross-contamination?

Standing at the sideline of dozens of meat processors, I have seen little sign of between job sterilization of knives, grinders, hooks and cutting surfaces.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:51 AM   #22
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Quote:
Could this be an argument against using head/neck shots to kill the game?
I think it is an excellent argument not to use your local game processor and throw away that band saw used to slice steaks (yuk).

It seems to me that when processing my own game, the carcass provides an effective means of removing surface gunk. By that I mean, once skinned and hung for a few days, the surface of the meat dries and with good technique can be removed from the primals and yield nice clean meat.

And sure, many people use a vinegar solution to cleanse their meat and I hear people say they hose down carcasses with the garden hose. I don't cotton to latter technique - it seems to me that by hosing down a carcass, one simply spreads any surface contaminants to other uncontaminated parts. Makes no sense to me....

When we are talking about fluids and brain matter, these materials are not going to be absorbed into the meat underlying the surface tissue.

Shoot heads and necks, nix the processor, bone out your meat, don't eat it raw and don't give raw bones or meat to your dogs either.
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Old July 21, 2014, 09:59 AM   #23
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Let's say that you take a head or neck shot. Once dead, how does anything move through an animal? How would prions get into the meat?

I don't "play" with the wound. I don't touch it; no reason to. Okay, field dress the deer; I don't cut into the spine at all. Back at camp or at home, hang the deer, skin the deer from below any neck wound, cut off the shoulders and hams. No cuts into the spine. Backstraps, inner tenders. The carcass goes for coyote bait.

My only possible exposure that I see is when I take a carpenter's hand saw and make an angling cut of the front of the skull so I can nail the antlers to a garage rafter. But I don't lick the saw.
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Old July 21, 2014, 10:16 AM   #24
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"And expose your well-cared for game to the risk of cross-contamination?
Standing at the sideline of dozens of meat processors, I have seen little sign of between job sterilization of knives, grinders, hooks and cutting surfaces."

^^^^^^^^^^^This^^^^^^^^^^^^

I've butcher all animals I harvest. I've yet to see a deer without ticks on him/her in Fl or SE Ga..

I do neck shosts if at all possible & cut all horns off of deer ; )
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Old July 21, 2014, 10:43 AM   #25
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Quote:
Let's say that you take a head or neck shot. Once dead, how does anything move through an animal? How would prions get into the meat?
Given the forces that cause temporary and permanent cavities and the size of those cavities when using the likes of 30-06, apply that pressure to CSF and I'm sure some can be forced to surrounding tissues.

It could then get to the muscle tissue when the butchering blade cuts through fascia and epimysia, taking some of the fluid with it.

I don't know how much prion exposure is needed, nor how far CSF can be sent through the internal cavities under the pressure of hydrostatic shock, but I can see how the above could happen.
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