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Nebraska deer hunters asked to watch for signs of TB

From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

-- As deer hunting season gets under way, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is asking hunters for their assistance in monitoring the deer population for tuberculosis (TB).

Within the past year there has been a finding of bovine TB at a facility with a captive elk and deer herd in northern Knox County. There also has been a finding of bovine TB in a beef herd in Rock County.

“Subsequent testing has not found any additional cases of the disease in either deer sampled in Knox County or cattle in the Rock County area,” said Jim Douglas, Commission Wildlife Division administrator. “We just want hunters to be aware of the signs of TB and to contact us if they happen to observe the signs of the disease on any deer they field-dress.”

The Commission recently sampled more than 40 wild white-tailed deer living near the Knox County facility where the infected animals were discovered. Officials found no indication the disease had spread to the wild deer population.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture continues to test cattle for bovine TB in north central Nebraska. To date 11,800 head have been tested with no positive cases.

TB-infected deer may have tan or yellow lumps lining the chest cavity, in the lung tissue, or in the lymph nodes of the cheek, head and neck. These signs could be mild, with only a few lumps, or severe. Any hunter who observes these signs when field dressing a deer should contact the nearest Commission office, Douglas said.

Bovine TB is an infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium bovis bacteria. Bovine TB primarily affects cattle, but can affect other mammals, including deer and humans. The Commission recommends wearing rubber gloves when field dressing any wild game and fully cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Deer are susceptible to many different diseases and parasites. Not all abnormalities encountered when field dressing a deer may be related to TB.

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