The War Against Germs; Blood Borne Pathogens and Parasites and the Wild Game Food Supply

Blood borne pathogens and parasites can be dangerous to humans.  They can be found in animals for food and animals not for food, the increasing risk of rabies, cat scratch fever, rabbit fever and many other dangerous tiny life forms. Not to mention fleas (that bite for blood) and ticks (the vampires of the insect world), among other insects, that bring their own special set of risks of infection.

Image from page 331 of "Diseases of the dog and their treatment" (1911)When a world changing event (WCE) happens, it is best to have as much knowledge as possible stuffed into all the brains of the people who will be sharing your living space.  The more people know about blood borne pathogens and parasites, the more likely the survival of the group.  This includes a good working knowledge of blood borne pathogens.  We’re not saying you have to be a molecular biologist. But it is important to know which meat and poultry sources are more likely than others to carry diseases and parasites that can cause illness or diseases among your group.  Everything from squirrels to pigeons find their way to the dinner table during hard times.

The most obvious risks when acquiring your meat in the wild are disease and parasite carrying fleas and ticks.  Salmonella, rabies and rickettsialpox are just a few possibilities.  Also consider hantavirus, trichinosis, mosquito-borne encephalitis, and Haverhill fever that range from the mild to the deadly.  They are found in all living wild and domesticated animals and fowl. The wild thing is more likely to have something to make you sick than not.  You can still eat them, but now that you know the risk is great, you can negate the risks by religiously following certain procedures.

  • Do not handle or eat animals that look sick or behave unusual manners.  What ever is killing them might make you sick or kill you.
  • Do not eat animals that are already dead.  You don’t know why they died, nor how long they have been dead.  Pay attention to the “eeww” factor.  You will likely get sick from them.
  • Bury any dead animals you find deep enough to keep other wild animals from digging them up and eating them. Three feet might be enough, but six feet is best. Pay attention to your water supply so that the dead animal is not buried close enough to your river or lake to contaminate it.  Dead animals might contaminate other wild life you plan to add to your food supply.  Do not touch the animal with your body or clothing while doing this.  Use sticks to push the animal around, then burn the stick.  Never open the grave of a dead animal, even if you are just going to add another.  Opening the graves will cause pathogens to become airborne making them easy to breathe in and contaminate your body and your clothing.
  • Wear disposable clothing and gloves when handling, skinning or cleaning wild animals.  If this is not possible, read the article about using an autoclave to sterilize equipment and proper cleaning of clothing items.
  • Properly dispose of carcasses and unusable wild game parts as soon as possible and as far away from your home as possible.   It’s most ideal to burn them, but burial a long distance from the home at a suitable depth is the next best choice.
  • Do not let meats contaminate any item that can’t be washed or sterilized by chemical or heat.
  • Handle carefully and cook wild game thoroughly before eating.
  • You can never use too much soap and hot water cleaning up after handling wild game!

Hunters and trappers who take game to a processor after the hunt should consider processing the meat yourself so that you and the other members of your group are well educated in these processes.  Learning to do them now means you will have access to excellent medical care and pharmaceuticals should you become infected.  If you wait to learn when you need it, after a WCE it might be impossible to get the quality of medical care you need.  The loss of the food from poor handling would unimportant after you die.

Lastly, all states offer a food handling certification course.  They are really cheap or free.  Everyone should take the a course from the most knowledgeable people available.  Make sure you take your list of questions!!  This will go a long way to making sure you understand how to protect your family’s health.

 

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