Deer are susceptible to a variety of diseases and parasites. Nevertheless, disease does not typically account for a large percentage of deer deaths. During a deer study in northern Missouri, radio transmitters were placed on more than 200 deer. Less than 4 percent died from disease.

This section covers only a few of the more common parasites and unusual conditions that people, especially hunters, might observe in deer. Few situations actually render deer unsuitable for the table. Only rare exceptions, including infections from injuries, occur. However, if you have questions about the deer you harvested, contact your local conservation agent or the nearest Conservation Department office.

Don’t Mistake Lymph Nodes for Abnormalities

Normal organs and structures occasionally are misinterpreted as abnormal. Lymph nodes, which are found throughout the body, are sometimes taken to be multiple tumors or abscesses. The nodes, which are part of the body's system used to fight off disease, are located under the skin, between muscle groups and in the body cavity. They are beige to light brown and range from 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Lymph nodes may become enlarged and darkened when the deer is fighting an infection.

cwd map 2015

Chronic Wasting Disease

CWD kills deer, elk, and moose. Get the facts, and help protect Missouri's white-tailed deer from this disease.

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Cutaneous Fibromas

Cutaneous fibromas, a skin disease found on deer, does not affect humans or other animals, and it does not affect the quality of a deer's meat.

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Hemorrhagic Disease

Hemorrhagic disease (HD) is a general term for epizootic hemorrhagic disease and bluetongue virus, which affect members of the deer family and some kinds of livestock. Browse reports for suspected HD in Missouri.

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Lyme Disease in Deer

There has never been a documented case of a human contracting Lyme disease through the handling or consumption of venison. Learn more.

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Nasal Bot Flies

Although unpleasant looking, nasal bot fly larvae do not harm deer and do not infect humans. Learn more.

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Tapeworm cysts in deer are harmless to humans but indicate the parasite is present in the region, and human infection by other means may be possible. Learn more.

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