Pennsylvania Hunter Exposed to Rabies by Field Dressing Deer

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Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced that a Lancaster County hunter has undergone post-exposure rabies shots after harvesting and field dressing a deer on Jan. 20, in Valley Township, Chester County, that ultimately tested positive for rabies.

“The hunter contacted us about his concerns that the deer was unfit for human consumption,” said John Veylupek, Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO).

“The hunter said that he saw the deer standing in a creek, straining and growling. He thought there was a coyote nearby from the sounds the deer was making.

“After gathering information from the hunter, as well as samples for testing, it was determined that the deer was rabid. Because the hunter had scratches on his hands and had field dressed the deer without wearing gloves, we considered this a human exposure and urged him to contact his doctor about post-exposure rabies shots.”

Dr. Walter Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife veterinarian, reiterated the agency’s long-standing recommendations that hunters and trappers avoid harvesting animals that appear sick and to wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing any mammal.

“All mammals are susceptible to rabies and can spread the virus in the right circumstances,” Dr. Cottrell said. “To prevent the spread of wildlife diseases, we encourage hunters and trappers to contact the Game Commission about any animals that they encounter that may appear to be sick. Also, when field dressing any mammal, it is critical to wear rubber or latex gloves to prevent exposure to not just rabies, but also to other disease organisms.”

For more information on rabies, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor over “Wildlife” in the menu bar listing, then put your cursor over “Wildlife Diseases” in the drop-down menu listing, click on “Wildlife Disease Reference Library” in the second drop-down menu listing and then select “Rabies” in the alphabetical listing.