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Deer with tuberculosis can pass bacteria to humans, CDC warns

2019-09-26

Oh, deer!

As hunting season gets underway, authorities are warning that deer infected with tuberculosis can transmit the bacteria to people.

The warning comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the case of a Michigan deer hunter who was diagnosed with tuberculosis two years ago. The 77-year-old man had not traveled to countries with endemic tuberculosis, had no history of drinking unpasteurized milk and had not been exposed to people carrying the disease, the agency said in a statement.

But the patient was a regular hunter and had field-dressed deer for about 20 years. It turns out he had been exposed to mycobacterium bovis, which is commonly found in bison, elk, deer and other animals, according to the CDC.

In May 2017, a 77-year-old man in Michigan was treated for #PulmonaryTuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The patient had regularly hunted & field-dressed #deer in an area with an enzootic focus of M. bovis during the past 20 years. Read more: https://t.co/ubaeDmfpM8 pic.twitter.com/3bpODJ0oyu

Two previous hunting-related human cases of mycobacterium bovis were reported in Michigan in 2002 and 2004, the agency said.

The CDC recommends hunters use protective equipment when field-dressing deer to prevent exposure to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.