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Hunter infected by TB from deer; case is first of its kind Michigan

Old 01-14-2005, 04:21 PM
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Default Hunter infected by TB from deer; case is first of its kind Michigan

Hunter infected by TB from deer; case is first of its kind

January 7, 2005


A hunter in Alcona County is the first living human known to have contracted bovine tuberculosis from a whitetail deer, the state Department of Community Health said Thursday.

The hunter was infected when he cut his hand while gutting an infected deer in October, a decade after state biologists discovered that deer in the northeastern Lower Peninsula had contracted the disease. It was the first known outbreak of bovine TB in wild whitetails in North America.

The hunter, who was not identified by the Department of Community Health, will be treated with special antibiotics for nine to 12 months, the standard regimen for people who have any form of tuberculosis, said health department spokesman T.J. Bucholz.

"He is expected to make a full recovery, and he did not develop any symptoms of the disease," Bucholz said. "The good news is that one hunter got the disease in a very unusual way. He didn't get it from eating the deer. It got into his body when he cut his hand while gutting an infected deer.

"The man saw numerous lesions inside the deer's body cavity when he was gutting it, and when he went to a doctor to have his cut treated, he was concerned enough about it that he mentioned it to the doctor. That gave the doctor a heads-up, and he decided that it might be smart to test for TB."

The hunter was infected with the genetic strain of bovine tuberculosis originally found only in Michigan deer. Pathologists also confirmed the same strain in the body of an elderly northern Michigan man who died in 2002, but TB did not cause the death of the man, who suffered other health problems.

"One thing we want to make clear to people is that TB is not anthrax," Bucholz said. "It's not a fast-acting illness. It's a long-term illness, and we have time to react appropriately" and treat people who are infected.

The state Department of Natural Resources first found bovine tuberculosis in deer in 1994, when a hunter near Alpena killed a deer that had sores on the inside of its chest cavity. The DNR began testing in that area and found that bovine TB had infected 16 of the 345 deer it checked, an infection rate of 4.6 percent. In townships near the core of the infected area, the rate exceeded 6 percent.

Cattle also were found with the disease, and 2,800 on 34 farms were destroyed after they apparently contracted TB from deer that fed in the same fields. The discovery of tuberculosis in cattle threatened the state's dairy and beef industries because it reduced the value of the livestock.

The DNR and state Agriculture Department began programs that dramatically increased the deer kill in the seven counties of the northeastern Lower Peninsula where the disease was found, and all of the state's 1 million dairy and beef cattle were tested for TB.

The incidence of bovine TB among deer in the core area decreased to 1.7 percent as of 2003, and state veterinarians expect it will be even lower when 2004 test results are available.

"A lot of the credit for that has to go to the hunters," said Dr. Dan O'Brien, a DNR wildlife veterinarian. "We could never have achieved that if they hadn't cooperated in bringing down the size of the deer herd in that area."

But the disease no longer is confined to the core area. It since has been confirmed in deer in 13 counties in the Lower Peninsula.

"This appearance of bovine TB in a human underscores the human health risk of the disease in free-ranging deer," said Janet Olszewski, director of the Department of Community Health. "People should not consume wild animals that appear or are confirmed to be sick, regardless of the circumstance."

At the same time, health and DNR officials stressed that there has never been a confirmed case in which people contracted tuberculosis from eating an infected deer. They said the risk of contracting the disease from cooked food was probably quite small.

The few coyotes, bears and other animals that have tested positive for bovine TB consumed raw deer and ate parts such as the lungs and lymph nodes, where the tuberculosis bacteria are concentrated.

Scientists said Michigan deer were infected by cattle that arrived with white settlers in an era when bovine tuberculosis often infected people who lived on farms or ate dairy products. Bovine tuberculosis was nearly eradicated in the United States with the development of pasteurized milk and the testing of cattle herds, and Michigan was listed as free of bovine TB in the 1970s.

But after the outbreak in deer and cattle in the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked Michigan's designation as a state free of bovine TB in 2000. The loss of that designation forced farmers to do expensive TB tests before selling cattle to farms or slaughterhouses in other states.

Michigan wants the USDA to restore the TB-free status to the Upper Peninsula, where no deer and cattle with TB have been found.

The federal agency has listed most of the Lower Peninsula as "modified accredited advanced," one step below TB-free. But 11 counties and parts of two others in the northern Lower Peninsula have been given a lower rating, making it almost impossible to sell cattle or cattle products from those areas outside of the state.

Contact ERIC SHARP at 313-222-2511 or [email protected].
timberghost20 is offline  
Old 01-14-2005, 08:05 PM
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Default RE: Hunter infected by TB from deer; case is first of its kind Michigan

What sad thing to happen...antibiotics for a year!? That poor man! But at least he's going to be all right. Honestly, what is going on these days with all these disease's and such?
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Old 01-14-2005, 08:39 PM
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Default RE: Hunter infected by TB from deer; case is first of its kind Michigan

Only God knows why!
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