Hunters Beware: Warnings of Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild Deer

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In the state of Michigan, authorities are warning hunters in their state to check for bovine tuberculosis in the wild deer they take down in this year’s hunting seasons. A news release from Michigan quoted a Department of Natural Resources state wildlife veterinarian who reported that, so far, Michigan is the only state this disease has been found to be established in wild deer. The Michigan DNR has identified this as an “emerging disease.” It’s unclear at this point as to whether such a disease has been likewise found in deer in Texas, however, as a cautionary note, photos identifying what to look for are posted here. Below is an image of what an infected deer’s rib cage might look like.

Hunters Beware: Warnings of Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild Deer


Caused by bacteria that target the respiratory system in both humans and animals, tuberculosis (otherwise known as TB) is considered serious. According to reports out of Michigan, the DNR stated that close to 900 deer tested positive for it out of 230K in 2017. Wildlife managers in Michigan have been aiming their efforts at eliminating the disease in whitetail deer, however, bovine tuberculosis (also recognized as bTB) has been known to infect a wide array of animals. Although possible, humans contracting this strain of the disease would be extremely rare. However, a wild deer herd, as well as other species, may be adversely affected, in addition to livestock. Deer and cattle being of particular importance in the state of Texas (deer recreationally for hunting, and livestock as a livelihood), people are being asked to take heed.

Hunters Beware: Warnings of Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild Deer

Photo: Pxhere

The transfer of bovine tuberculosis from one species to another can occur when the animals are in close proximity or contact with each other. It is primarily spread through sneezing and coughing as well as exchanging saliva. In that respect, food which is contaminated by the saliva of an infected animal can easily spread the disease. This is the primary course through which cattle and deer can and have infected each another. As a result, in the state of Michigan, hunters are being urged to submit the heads of their deer kills for the appropriate testing.