Deer in North Carolina have managed to contract rabies.
"We're not certain how it was contracted," Commission spokeswoman Fairley Mahlum said. "It's possible that it might have been eating a pile of corn and was bitten by a rabid raccoon. Rabies has to be contracted by saliva. But we don't know for sure."
The wildlife commission has received multiple reports of dying deer unable to stand, fearless of humans and losing coordination. Deer afflicted with rabies, epizootic hemorrhagic disease or chronic wasting disease can exhibit all of these symptoms. Biologists sent tissue samples from several afflicted deer for lab testing. The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study tested and confirmed rabies.
Biologists rarely test deer for rabies, although all mammals are susceptible to it, including humans. To avoid transmission of disease from deer to humans, be sure to do the following.
- Do not eat or handle the meat from an animal that appears to be acting sick or abnormal
- Wear rubber gloves while field dressing an animal
- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal fluid
- Wash your hands (I really hope everyone does this...)
- If you don't process your own deer, request that it's processed separately
- Better yet, process your own deer, but wear gloves and don't touch the brain or spinal fluid
If you live in North Carolina and experience any strange symptoms, you can call the North Carolina Commission's Wildlife helpline at 866-318-2401 or 1-800-662-7137.