The truth, the whole truth – or less than half the truth! A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) touched off a wave of nationwide headlines about deer hunters contracting tuberculosis from deer; but most news coverage failed to provide a very important detail: Bovine tuberculosis is eradicated in white-tailed deer except in a small area in the northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Outside northeast Michigan, there is no reason for deer hunters to be concerned about bovine tuberculosis (TB).
The CDC case involved one 77-year-old Michigan hunter who contracted tuberculosis in 2017, apparently while field-dressing a deer. Even in the historical detection area that includes 13 counties in northeast Michigan, bovine TB is rare in deer; only two percent of the deer tested for bovine TB are positive.
Still, since there is the possibility of transmission of some other pathogens when field dressing game, it is recommended to wear protection and take precautions.