A few important points:
Hunters should avoid field dressing deer that look abnormal or that had acted abnormally (including hides with large or multiple lesions, internal organs with abscesses or that are foul smelling, or an animal that has exhibited unusual behavior, such as this case where the animal is growling.) In most all cases, the hunter should still take down the animal and then contact the Game Commission.
Always wear latex gloves when field dressing a deer, being sure to keep fluids from contracting your own skin. (That includes refraining from spreading blood on your face as you pretend to be the Great Hunter.)
A little more on rabies from the CDC:
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.Hunters risk run-in with rabieshttp://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120203/NEWS/202030348/-1/NEWS01
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.
Scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes contaminated with saliva or other potentially infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal constitute non-bite exposures. Occasionally reports of non-bite exposure are such that postexposure prophylaxis is given.
By Chad Smith
Pocono Record Writer
February 03, 2012
A hunter who killed a deer in Chester County was treated for rabies after the deer tested positive for the disease, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The commission is recommending hunters wear gloves when they field-dress a deer or any other mammal they've killed.
The Chester County hunter had field-dressed the deer and had cuts on his hands. The commission recommended the hunter be treated for post-exposure rabies.
The incident occurred Jan. 20 in Valley Township. No other instances of rabid deer have been reported in Pennsylvania since then, said Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser.
According to the commission statement, the hunter had seen the deer standing by a creek, "straining and growling."
"He thought there was a coyote nearby from the sounds the deer was making," the commission said.
After the hunter shot the deer, he decided to contact the commission. The deer later tested positive for rabies. Every year, one or two cases of rabid deer are reported to the commission, Feaser said.
Though all mammals are susceptible to rabies, deer are usually less likely to contract the virus because their behavioral patterns are different from animals that are often more associated with the disease, like raccoons.
Feaser also said hunters shouldn't kill an animal that looks like it has rabies. It's best to leave it alone and call the commission. Once an animal dies, it becomes harder to tell whether the animal was infected with rabies, and officials want to keep track of rabies cases.
Terry Hill, archery manager at Dunkelberger's sporting goods store in Stroudsburg, said Thursday that he wears latex gloves when he field-dresses an animal. He said he recommends latex gloves to hunters who come into the store. However, he said some hunters mock the practice.
About 104 cases of rabid deer have been reported in the United States since 1990, according to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.