The AVMA has issued a reference guide for hunters and wild game processors explaining the zoonotic disease risks of handling wildlife. Two accompanying "quick tips" sheets explain ways they can protect themselves from infection.
Suggestions for keeping hunting dogs safe are also offered, along with a section on the disease risks associated with international game hunting.
The AVMA points out that the information isn't meant to discourage people from hunting but is instead intended to educate hunters and processors about the disease risks they face and ways of reducing the danger.
Hunters are at risk of exposure to several infectious diseases, ranging from avian influenza and Lyme disease to rabies and tuberculosis. Sources of exposure to these and other zoonotic pathogens are not limited to infected animals but include ticks and other insects as well as contaminated soil and water.
The reference guide features descriptions of zoonotic diseases and signs of illness in humans and dogs.
"Hunters should always consult their physician if they are concerned they have been exposed to a disease or are showing symptoms of illness," advises the reference guide. "If there are any concerns that your hunting dog or any other companion animal may have contracted any of these diseases, please contact your veterinarian."
Recommendations for hunters in the tip sheets include making sure dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations, especially rabies vaccination; removing the intestines of game as soon as possible; and avoiding using the same utensils to clean different species.
The backgrounders are available on the AVMA Web site (www.avma.org) in the Public Health section under "Hunters and zoonotic risks."