CDC: Deer infected with tuberculosis could spread bacteria to people

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Federal health officials are warning hunters to take additional precautions after discovering deer with tuberculosis can potentially transmit the bacteria to humans.

The advisory comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which did a case study involving a 77-year-old Michigan man.

The man hunted regularly and field-dressed deer for two decades. In 2017, lab tests showed he had been exposed to Mycobacterium bovis, which is found in deer, cattle, bison and elk. The bacterium can spread to humans and cause tuberculosis.

The CDC said two other cases in Michigan in 2002 and 2004 were also linked to hunters who had apparently contracted it from deer while field-dressing them.

As a result, “hunters are encouraged to use personal protective equipment while field-dressing deer” as a precaution.

Hunters in Michigan who submit deer heads that test positive for M. bovis might be at higher risk of infection, the CDC said. The agency recommended TB screening on a precautionary basis.

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