Hunters warned to watch for bovine tuberculosis in deer

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Hunters are being warned to watch for deer with bovine tuberculosis after the disease was found in a large beef herd in Michigan.

Although bovine TB typically occurs in cattle, it can infect nearly any mammal, including humans. That’s according to the Michigan DNR.

Bovine TB in animals may occur in the lungs, but it may also occur in the intestines and other parts of the body.

From the Michigan DNR:

There are signs of bovine tuberculosis hunters may observe when field-dressing a deer.

Lymph nodes in the animal’s head usually show infection first and, as the disease progresses, lesions may begin to develop on the surface of the lungs and chest cavity. In severely infected deer, lesions can sometimes be found throughout the animal’s entire body.

Deer with severe TB may have tan or yellow lumps lining the chest wall and in the lung tissue. Deer showing this type of infection should be submitted to the DNR for laboratory testing.

In the years since bovine tuberculosis was discovered in wild white-tailed deer in Michigan, much has been learned about this contagious disease.

The DNR and other agencies working to eradicate bovine tuberculosis from our state encourage Michigan residents to educate themselves about this affliction and do what they can as individuals and groups to help fight it.

For more information on bovine tuberculosis, visit

From the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development:

Bovine tuberculosis was recently confirmed in a large beef herd in Alcona County.

This herd, which is the 73rd cattle herd to be identified with bovine TB in Michigan since 1998, was identified through routine surveillance testing.

Bovine TB is an infectious bacterial disease primarily affecting cattle. It is endemic in the free-ranging white-tailed deer population in Michigan’s modified accredited zone, a USDA designation for Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties. Annual surveillance and movement testing are required of cattle producers, which helps catch the disease early and prevents it from being moved off the farm.

“In the modified accredited zone, anything shared by deer and cattle can be a potential source of bovine tuberculosis infection,” said Michigan’s Assistant State Veterinarian Nancy Barr, DVM. “Preventing deer from having contact with cattle feed, feed storage or watering areas is crucial for farmers in this area of Michigan and a part of wildlife biosecurity programs being implemented.”

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