What Diseases Can You Get from Eating Deer Meat: The Surprising Truth

What Diseases Can You Get from Eating Deer Meat

Deer meat, also known as venison, has been consumed by humans for centuries. It is a popular choice for many hunters and meat enthusiasts due to its lean and flavorful characteristics. However, it is important to be aware of the potential diseases that may be transmitted through the consumption of deer meat.

1. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. It is caused by abnormally folded proteins, known as prions, which attack the brain and nervous system. Although there is currently no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, health experts recommend caution.

Authorities in areas where CWD is prevalent advise hunters to have the meat of deer tested before consumption. This is to ensure the safety of consuming venison and to prevent potential transmission of the disease.

2. Brucellosis

Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria from the genus Brucella. Although rare, humans can contract the disease by consuming undercooked or raw deer meat infected with the bacteria. Symptoms of brucellosis in humans include fever, fatigue, joint pain, and muscle aches.

It is crucial to cook deer meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C) to kill any potential bacteria or parasites present. Additionally, wearing gloves while handling raw meat and practicing good hygiene can help prevent the transmission of brucellosis.

3. Tularemia

Tularemia, or rabbit fever, is a bacterial infection often found in rabbits and other small animals, such as deer. It can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat or through tick and flea bites. Symptoms of tularemia include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and ulcers at the site of infection.

To reduce the risk of contracting tularemia, it is vital to thoroughly cook deer meat and take precautions to prevent insect bites, such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent when spending time outdoors.

4. E. coli and Salmonella

E. coli and Salmonella are bacteria that can be found in deer meat and can cause food poisoning in humans. These pathogens are typically present in the animal’s intestines and feces, which can contaminate the meat during processing.

To prevent the risk of E. coli and Salmonella infections, it is essential to handle raw deer meat with caution and ensure proper cooking. Thoroughly washing hands, utensils, and surfaces after contact with raw meat can also help minimize the risk of contamination.

5. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. While deer are often associated with Lyme disease due to serving as hosts for ticks, consuming deer meat does not pose a direct risk of contracting the disease.

However, it is always essential to be cautious when handling deer carcasses and other wildlife, as ticks can potentially transmit Lyme disease. Wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent can help prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of Lyme disease transmission.

Frequently Asked Questions On What Diseases Can You Get From Eating Deer Meat: The Surprising Truth

What Diseases Can You Get From Eating Deer Meat?

Eating deer meat can potentially transmit zoonotic diseases such as chronic wasting disease (CWD) and tick-borne infections like Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis. CWD affects the nervous system, while tick-borne illnesses can cause flu-like symptoms. It’s crucial to handle, cook, and consume deer meat properly to minimize the risk of contracting any diseases.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Raw Deer Meat?

Consuming raw deer meat, or any raw meat for that matter, exposes you to the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. It’s essential to cook deer meat thoroughly to destroy harmful pathogens and ensure your safety.

How Can You Prevent Diseases From Eating Deer Meat?

To prevent illnesses from consuming deer meat, adhere to proper food safety practices. Thoroughly cook the meat to a safe internal temperature, wash hands before and after handling raw meat, and avoid cross-contamination with other food items. Additionally, ensure that you harvest and process deer according to regulations and consult local authorities for any health warnings related to deer populations.

What Precautions Should You Take While Handling Deer Meat?

When handling deer meat, it’s important to use clean utensils and surfaces to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Wear gloves when processing the meat to avoid direct contact and the potential transmission of bacteria. Properly refrigerate or freeze the meat to inhibit bacterial growth, and ensure all equipment used for hunting and processing is clean and disinfected.


While the risks associated with consuming deer meat are relatively low, it is crucial to be aware of potential diseases and take appropriate precautions to ensure safety. Thoroughly cooking deer meat, practicing good hygiene, and avoiding consumption of undercooked or raw meat can minimize the risk of transmitting any diseases that may be present.

Disease Transmission Symptoms
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Contagious within deer population, no proven human transmission None in humans
Brucellosis Consumption of infected meat Fever, fatigue, joint pain
Tularemia Consumption of contaminated meat or insect bites Fever, swollen lymph nodes, ulcers
E. coli and Salmonella Contamination during processing Food poisoning symptoms
Lyme Disease Tick bites from infected ticks Fever, rash, joint pain

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to foodborne illnesses. By following safe handling and cooking practices, you can enjoy the deliciousness of deer meat while minimizing the risks associated with consuming it.

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