Disease prevention quick tips for hunters

Prior to Hunting Season:

  • Make sure hunting dogs are up-to-date on their vaccines, especially rabies.
  • Begin (or continue) heartworm prevention medications in consultation with your veterinarian.

During and After Hunting:

  • Do not hunt if you are ill.
  • Minimize insect bites.
  • Avoid abdominal shots when possible.
  • Report any sick wildlife or wild bird die-off.
  • Avoid wearing the same clothes on consecutive days.
  • Conduct frequent body checks for ticks.
  • Do not feed entrails, raw meat or other offal to your dogs.
  • Consider using non-lead ammunition.

Handling and Cleaning the Carcass:

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while cleaning wild fowl or game.
  • Wear gloves (latex, nitrile or heavy rubber).
  • Do not use the same utensils to clean different species.
  • If abnormalities are seen in the intestines, abdominal cavity or chest cavity during cleaning, consider disposing of the entire carcass. Report abnormalities to your state's fish and game agency.
  • Remove wide margins of tissue around all wounds.
  • Remove the intestines as soon as possible.
  • Minimize contact with brain or spinal tissues.
  • Discard meat that has come into contact with intestinal contents.
  • Protect carcass from flies.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Processing the Meat:

  • Wear gloves (latex, nitrile or heavy rubber).
  • Thoroughly wash and disinfect tools, equipment and working surfaces after use.

Cooking and Storing the Meat:

  • Do not eat meat from wild game or fowl that appeared ill or abnormal.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat.
  • Do not keep meat at room temperature.
  • Thoroughly cook meat.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze uncooked meat.
  • Properly wrap and store wild game meat separate from other foods.

More information about these tips and zoonotic disease prevention for hunters can be found in the AVMA's Disease Precautions for Hunters document.

This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Redistribution is acceptable, but the document's original content and format must be maintained, and its source must be prominently identified. Please contact Dr. Kimberly May (800.248.2862, ext 6667) with questions or comments.