DNR says deer season brings worries of infected meat - FOX Carolina 21

DNR says deer season brings worries of infected meat

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COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

DNR says deer season brings worries of infected meat

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that a parasite found in many meats can also be found in South Carolina deer.

Toxoplasmosis is a one-celled parasite and is one of the most common diseases transmitted from animals to humans, according to SCDNR.

Officials said 30 to 60 percent of adults in the United States have been exposed to the parasite, but it rarely causes disease. If infected, people might show brief flu-like symptoms and those who with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

"Many people concerned about eating venison, or deer meat, have called the department asking about the likelihood of exposure to toxoplasmosis," said Charles Ruth, Statewide Deer/Turkey Project supervisor for the Wildlife Section of SCDNR.

"Although the disease is often mentioned only in conjunction with venison, it can be found in many domestic meats including beef, pork, and sheep. Once you become aware of how the disease works, chances of exposure can be minimized, and venison can be safely consumed."

SCDNR recommends the following steps to minimize risk of infection:

  1. Do not handle fresh carcasses or meat with wounds on their hands.
  2. Handle all meats carefully.
  3. Cook all meats thoroughly before eating.
  4. Freeze all red meats prior to cooking
  5. Minimize contact with soil or dirt when gardening.

SCDNR said studies have shown that the rate of prevalence of the parasite in white-tailed deer and domestic meats varies between 24.4 and 64 percent. The animals that pose the most risk are not deer, however, but cats in and around homes.

Ruth said the bottom line is that the parasite is not only related to deer meat and the potential for contracting the disease from venison is probably the same as it is from domestic meats.

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