Deer Tuberculosis

Since deer hunters are often exposed to ticks and have Lyme and/or other tick borne diseases, we share this information in the event they may see infected deer and/or ticks may already be, or may eventually become, infected with Mycobacterium bovis or M. bovis and pass the organism that causes pulmonary tuberculosis along to humans.

The CDC issued warnings to hunters looking to bag a deer stating...

You could get a strain of tuberculosis from a deer if it is infected by the disease.

Important Information- "Small lesions in wild white-tailed deer are not always readily recognized by hunters. Abscesses may not be visible to hunters when field dressing deer. In fact, most infected white-tailed deer appear healthy. Only 42 percent of the TB positive deer in Michigan have had lesions in the chest cavity or lungs that would be recognized as unusual by most deer hunters. These deer had tan or yellow lumps on the inside surface of the rib cage and/or in and on the lung tissue." Source

"Bovine TB is a chronic disease and it can take years to develop. It grows very slowly and only replicates every 12-20 hours."

Good Information From Michigan-,4570,7-350-79136_79608_85016-99064--,00.html


According to the CDC- Not all M. bovis infections progress to TB disease, so there might be no symptoms at all. In people, symptoms of TB disease caused by M. bovis are similar to the symptoms of TB caused by M. tuberculosis; this can include fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Other symptoms might occur depending on the part of the body affected by the disease.

For example, disease in the lungs can be associated with a cough, and gastrointestinal disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. If untreated, a person can die of the disease.

Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as:

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms of TB disease are:

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others.


Screening tests include the tuberculin skin test (TST) and the interferon-gamma release assay (blood test).

More Testing Information Here


According to the CDC- M. bovis is treated similarly to M. tuberculosis. In fact, healthcare providers might not know that a person has M. bovis instead of M. tuberculosis. M. bovis is usually resistant to one of the antibiotics, pyrazinamide, typically used to treat TB disease. However, resistance to just pyrazinamide does not usually cause problems with treatment, because TB disease is treated with a combination of several antibiotics.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019 Sep 20;68(37):807-808. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6837a3.

Notes from the Field: Zoonotic Mycobacterium bovis Disease in Deer Hunters - Michigan, 2002-2017.

Sunstrum J, Shoyinka A, Power LE, Maxwell D, Stobierski MG, Signs K, Sidge JL, O'Brien DJ, Robbe-Austerman S, Davidson P.

PMID: 31536485

DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6837a3

Link To Full Article

CDC warning: Deer carrying tuberculosis strain can pass it to humans

By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Updated: Sep 26, 2019 - 4:26 PM

Link To Article

Deer Infected With Tuberculosis

Last Updated- October 2019

Lucy Barnes