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Between Chronic Wasting Disease and COVID in deer, how safe are they to eat?


The 9-day gun deer hunt is over, and many hunters are looking forward to stocking their freezers.

But between chronic wasting disease and now the possibility of COVID infected deer, how safe is that meat to eat?

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services urges hunters to follow good health practices.

Rachel Klos is the DHS vectorborne diseases epidemiologist. She says first and foremost, hunters should get their tested.

“We would still recommend that hunters get their deer tested for CWD, especially if they’re harvested in one of those areas that’s been affected by CWD and then to be sure to hold that meat and not eat until they get the test result back that no CWD was detected,” said Klos.

Test results typically take 10 to 14 days to come back.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you do not eat meat from a deer that tests positive.

On top of Chronic Wasting Disease concerns, Klos says it’s always a good idea to use safe meat handling practices.

Recent studies have shown deer testing positive for COVID-19 and that it could be more widespread than initially thought.

Studies haven’t been done in Wisconsin yet, so it’s hard to know if deer here are infected.

The Department of Health Services urges hunters take proper precautions when handling the carcass like wearing rubber or disposable gloves and wear a mask.

Ultimately, Klos says the risk of you getting COVID from an infected deer is low.

“We don’t have a lot of information about white-tailed deer and SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID in people. What we can say right now, is that we have no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from eating food or consuming meat including wild game meat,” said Klos.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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