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Can humans get diseases from deer?

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November 03, 2011 12:50PM

Yes - humans can get diseases from deer but most diseases carried by deer do not transfer very effectively to humans. Most of the cases when deer were a vector for a disease passed on to humans, it was by way of parasites that carried the disease from the deer to a human such as lyme disease transferred by deer ticks from deer to people.

Sarcocystus - a cyst causing parasite - can be passed from deer to people if they consume undercooked venison.

Deer can also host Gongylonema pulchrum - a nematode parasite that is also capable of infecting humans. The vector for getting this one from an infected deer to a human would require ingesting eggs from the feces of infected deer, it is quite uncommon for people to get it from deer unless they get their hands dirty from handling the feces or otherwise get the eggs from the feces on their hands or into uncooked food and then ingest it.

Leptrospirosis which is caused by the spirochete Leptospira interogans. can infect both deer and humans. Infection of humans from contact with deer would probably involve poor hygiene in handling deer carcasses and eating undercooked meat.