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- West Nile Virus and Wild Game/Meat
Is there a risk of getting infected with West Nile virus (WNV)
if I eat turkey or another animal that has been infected with
is no evidence that people can become infected with WNV from eating
infected meat. The small, theoretical risk of infection can be
eliminated by proper handling and thorough cooking of meat before
it is consumed.
Several well-known and potentially serious food-borne illnesses
can occur when turkey and other meats are improperly handled or
undercooked. For more information on food safety, please see:
What is known about the risk of West Nile virus infection from
dried, uncooked meat (jerky)?
A. There are no published studies that directly address
this question. Most studies indicate that while mammals can become
infected with West Nile virus, they do not develop high concentrations
of virus in their blood or tissues. Although it is unlikely that
dried meat from mammals would have much virus present, and probable
that gastrointestinal digestion would further limit the possibility
of infectiousness, there is insufficient evidence to determine
whether dried meat presents a risk of West Nile virus infection
to humans or other animals.
If you have questions about this topic it may be advisable to
contact local wildlife authorities and/or health authorities to
find out whether the area where the animal was harvested has West
Nile virus activity, and whether animals of the species in question
Are duck and other wild game hunters at risk for West Nile virus
A. Because of their outdoor exposure, game hunters may be
at risk if they are bitten by mosquitoes in areas with West Nile
virus activity. The extent to which West Nile virus may be present
in wild game is unknown.
What should wild game hunters do to protect against West Nile
A. Hunters should follow the usual precautions when handling
wild animals. If they anticipate being exposed to mosquitoes,
they should apply insect repellent to clothing and skin, according
to label instructions, to prevent mosquito bites. Hunters should
wear gloves when handling and cleaning animals to prevent blood
exposure to bare hands and meat should be cooked thoroughly.
Who should wild game hunters contact for information about the
risk for West Nile virus infection in specific geographic areas?
A. Hunters should check with their local area department of
wildlife and naturalist resources, state epidemiologist at the
state health department, or the US Geological Survey (USGS) National
Wildlife Health Center, Madison, WI, 608-270-2400 for information
on local area risk.