Can DEER droppings transmit CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE to HUMANS? ~ UNIV OF MONTANA criticized for handling of HANTAVIRUS case – RABIES reports from FL & NC.

Image: Whitetail deer. Public Domain.

Image: Whitetail deer. Public Domain.

Global 03/28/15 triblive.com: by Jessica Walliser – Question: I have a problem and hope that you can help me. My sizable flower garden has deer droppings all through the beds. There are huge piles in some instances. I cannot possibly remove them. Can I just hoe them into the soil like fertilizer? Is there any health issue connected with this? I wear gloves all the time, but I also transplant a lot of perennials and move them around. Any input?

Answer: This is a very good question. The biggest potential problem you face in having so many deer droppings in your garden is the potential for the transmission of E. coli and chronic wasting disease (CWD), a deer and elk disease similar to mad cow disease. The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website notes that CWD has been detected in several Pennsylvania locations since it was first found in the state in 2012. After a bit of investigating, I discovered that the jury is still out on whether and how chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to humans. That being said, both the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website and the Center for Disease Control’s website note that there’s no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans. But they do not recommend eating meat from a deer that has tested positive for CWD. From what I found, fecal-to-oral transmission from deer to humans has not been completely ruled out, meaning the disease could possibly be transmitted to a human if she were to touch contaminated deer excrement and then inadvertently introduce it into her mouth, but no cases of this type of transmission have ever been recorded.

Jessica Walliser

Jessica Walliser

So what does that mean for gardeners? In my mind, it means “better safe than sorry.” Handle deer waste as you would any animal waste — with extreme care. Use gloves when working in the garden and try to remove as much waste as possible, using a shovel to bury it elsewhere, if possible. Scoop it out of the garden very carefully, and certainly do not allow it to come into contact with any edibles. Do not use the contaminated “manure shovel” for any other tasks. Even if CWD is not transmissible to humans via contact with fecal matter, E.coli is. Deer carry dangerous strains of E. coli in their guts. Because of this, deer waste should be composted in a “hot” compost pile (165 degrees F) for a minimum of three months to kill any E. coli bacteria that is present in it. Composting, however, does not kill the disease prions for CWD. Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.

HANTAVIRUS:

Deer mouse. USDA.

Deer mouse. USDA.

Montana 03/29/15 mtstandard.com: The University of Montana is being criticized for the way it handled a case of hantavirus on campus earlier this month. The response consisted of a “vague email sent out late on a Friday afternoon, and lacked crucial information such as when the infection occurred or became known, what locations might be suspected sources of exposure, or even that it was a student who had been infected.” It is now known that “(s)ometime during the first week of March, Antonio Morsette, 20, began showing symptoms of hantavirus, including intense headaches, fatigue, and hot and cold flashes. He was likely exposed one to five weeks earlier. A junior in environmental studies who hails from Rocky Boy, Morsette returned to classes this week, stronger but not fully recovered. After all, he had to be put into a medically induced coma for four days, and nearly died of hantavirus . . . Morsette believes he was exposed to hantavirus while power-washing recycled materials at the recycling center on campus. The virus can be found in the droppings of contaminated rodents, and can be transmitted to humans when they breathe air containing the virus. Morsette told the Missoulian that the Missoula City-County Health Department said that he and his colleagues at the recycling center should have worn masks while power-washing the recycled materials.” – See http://mtstandard.com/news/opinion/guest/at-um-hantavirus-case-exposed-communication-failure/article_29dfa58a-b3c1-503a-8acf-a1a48b8e17c7.html

RABIES:

a898778rabies-alertFlorida 03/26/15 Sarasota County: A Rabies Alert has been issued for the area within a 1.5-mile radius of Honore Avenue and Bahia Vista Street in the City of Sarasota after a goat tested positive for the virus. A local veterinarian who treated the goat for injuries said it is likely that it was attacked by a rabid fox or raccoon. – See http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20150326/article/150329784

rabies_tag_small_websiteNorth Carolina 03/28/15 Union County: A dog found dead in the area of Mullis Newsome and New Salem roads in Monroe has tested positive for rabies. People and pets who may have been exposed to the dog, described as a brown and white female Husky, should immediately be examined and evaluated for possible treatment.- See http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article16640846.html

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