Parasites in Venison

Venison Parasites – Overview

Parasites are a normal part of the biology in most mammals, and venison parasites are no exception. Humans, Deer, mice and other creatures often fall victim to parasitic infection, whether by an external or internal parasite. Many times, these infections pose no great risk to the hosts but can be complicated and cause future problems. Due to the variety of parasites that are capable of infecting deer, it is often hard to tell whether or not each individual infection could create a problem in the herd or the individual deer. In white-tailed deer, scientific evidence shows that nearly 137 species of parasites exist that can infect deer of the genus Odocoileus.

Venison Parasites Encountered While Hunting

When hunting and killing game, hunters may sometimes come across external parasites that can be seen by the naked eye. These infections often appear on the skin and can come across as being different shapes and sizes, from small protrusions to some that protrude several inches. Other organisms such as ticks and fleas can also cause a number of other diseases and conditions, which we will not focus on in this article. Despite this, many question whether these parasites pose any health risk to the individual deer, the herd, or if they can be transmitted to man.

External Venison Parasites

In reality, few external parasites exist that are capable of being transmitted from deer to humans or to other household pets. The same is true for parasites invisible to the human eye. However, if a deer becomes infected with a parasite from a domestic animal, such as a dog or a cat, the deer is more susceptible to devastating issues relating to pathogenesis. Conversely, it is common for deer to transfer parasites to other deer in a naturally occurring way that does not have a large consequence on either of the animals being infected. This may be true due to the different types of parasites that infect domestic and wild free-ranging animals.

Parasites in Large Numbers

In large numbers, however, parasites and the spread of disease can have devastating consequences to all animal populations. For this reason, many states often monitor deer population numbers and living conditions in order to assess prevalence and incidence rates of disease to maintain healthy deer populations. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) Many hunters and families rely on healthy deer for meat throughout the year. 2) Other animals are at risk if healthy deer populations are not maintained.

Preventing Illness & Health Effects from Venison Parasites

Venison ParasitesTo prevent illness from the consumption of Venison parasites in meat, some steps can be taken to ensure the meat is safe for human ingestion and. Often, simply freezing deer meat for 24-48 hours after processing will kill the parasites, if any exist in the meat. In addition to this, making sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked at or above 160F will kill off parasites, especially if the meat is still raw and has not been frozen.

One other health risk that can easily be avoided with proper preparation and cooking Venison meat is the growth of bacteria. Because bacteria can plague any meat, the best way to avoid bacteria growth and infection would be through proper freezing and defrosting techniques. Avoid leaving Venison meat on the kitchen counter to thaw at room temperature. Instead, place the meat in the refrigerator – this will prevent the formation and growth of bacteria. In addition to this, when handling the meat it is a good idea to wash hands and surfaces both before and after handling venison to avoid the potential of bacterial infection.

In conclusion, make sure that you remain safe when handling venison in order to prevent Venison parasites and bacteria from contaminating your meat. Follow our above tips while cooking, hunting and processing your meat to ensure venison parasites do no harm to you or your family.