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Old 09-09-2007, 10:28 AM   #1
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Hunters - Game Animals & Rabies?

Some of you may have seen a story in the news last Thursday about a bear (which ended up testing positive for rabies) attacking a family in their Maryland home.

I'm not a hunter, but do know that a lot of folks around here in Virginia do hunt - & eat - black bear. So my question is, if you hunt bear & do kill one, how do you know whether or not it has rabies - especially if it's just in the early stages? I'd think that butchering & then eating the meat would pretty much put you in the thick of it, wouldn't it?

I guess the same would go for other rabies-carrying creatures that some people hunt & eat, like woodchucks & raccoons. I doubt hunters have these animals tested before eating them, but was wondering if anyone has a protocol they follow - especially these days when rabid animals seem to be popping up more & more (at least here in the Mid-Atlantic).


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Old 09-09-2007, 11:28 AM   #2
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Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal (the saliva carries the virus) and rarely by aerosolized particles (such as inhalation of the virus in aerosols in bat infested caves).

There has never been, as far as I can tell, a case where a person has developed rabies by eating an infected animal. Maybe it has happened, but it is not a recognized manner of transmission of the disease.

Bears do however carry trichinella, commonly. Yep, the buggers that got our moms incinerating pork to the point of being inedible.

Thank goodness that is no longer a problem in piggies. But with bear meat it is. Always cook your bear steaks fully, no bear carpaccio please.

Just my take on things.

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Old 09-09-2007, 11:45 AM   #3
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what you find with most all Viruses (and bacterium) is that the more Lethal they are, the less virulent and fewer transmission vectors there are, inversely the less fatal the easier they spread and have more transmission vectors.

something like Rabies is quite Fatal in most cases, and so will be harder to engage in a host.

edited to add: perhaps an easier way to think about is that if they want to survive (and they do!) they would be doing themselves no favors by being super fatal AND easily spread, it defeats the object :)
that has been bread out of them by evolution.

compare HIV and the Common Cold for instance
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Old 09-09-2007, 12:41 PM   #4
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Out here people hunt bear but we do not eat the meat,nor do we eat racoons and other vermin.Isn't deer and elk,(antelope which by the way I cant stand, its too gamey)wild turkey good enough?
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Old 09-09-2007, 12:47 PM   #5
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Bear is really good. It tastes a lot like beef. : )
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:28 PM   #6
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I've known for years that bear and racoon has to be cooked thoroughly, because of trichonosis. Critters get this from eating trash.

If I remember correctly, isn't the rabies virus also present in the central nervous system of the infected animal? Contact this the spinal column or brain of a fresh dead critter might cause an infection? I'm not sure if the virus is killed by cooking.
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:19 PM   #7
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Here's a site with info that says that the virus is definitely killed by cooking but you should handle all game with great care until it is fully cooked to avoid getting any virus in a scratch or open wound, etc.
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:52 AM   #8
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Thanks Fisher's Mom - that's what I was wondering. While no one in the Maryland family was bitten or scratched by the bear, they're all undergoing the vaccinations as a precaution because some of the bear's blood apparently hit the husband (who managed to wound the animal) & no one wanted to take any chances. That's what made me think that butchering - due to the possibility of blood & bodily fluid spattering - might be rather risky in the case of a rabid animal. And I can't even think about eating an animal infected with that - whether it's killed by cooking or not - lol!!!!
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:50 AM   #9
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I know this thread is over a month old but when I read the part where you were told you have to make sure Bear is cooked well done, the same as Pork, I thought I should mention that I was told by a Game Warden down here that Bear and Pigs are closely related and that any recipe for Pork will work with bear.
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:08 PM   #10
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I believe rabies in bears would be fairly rare. Also an infected animal might show signs or symptoms early. As hunters we are always cautioned about carefully handling game, no open cuts or abrasions and the like. Cooking thoroughly should solve the problem. I have hunted them all my life and I am more concerned with falling over a rock than I am with bears being infected with rabies. Now, the CWD that is affecting deer herds is something else again.

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