About Abscesses

The bacteria that are commonly associated with abscesses are common in the environment. A variety of bacteria are associated with abscesses in deer and elk including Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Trueperella pyogenes, Pseudomonas spp., Streptococcus spp. and Staphylococcus spp.. Most abscesses are found in lymph nodes and internal organs and contain thick, greenish yellow or white purulent material.
Commonly Affected Species:
Signs Of Disease
Abscesses are typically characterized by variable sized pockets of pus which can be located anywhere on the body, usually under the skin or in skeletal muscles. In mammals, abscesses do not typically cause illness because the abscess is usually localized. Abscesses that spread along the muscle layers, or into various organs may cause pathological conditions that can be detrimental to the animal's health. In birds, abscesses usually form enlarged spherical areas that may hinder movement or feeding ability. In raptors, the feet are often involved (bumblefoot) and the enlarged areas can result in an inability to stand and to capture prey.
Where is Disease Found?
Abscesses occur commonly in many species of wildlife across North America. Abscesses of many origins in many wildlife species have been documented in Idaho.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Contamination of skin or other tissues from pus in abscesses can lead to human infections. Use rubber or latex gloves when field dressing animals. If abscesses are found, the abscess should not be opened to prevent pus from contaminating other parts of the carcass. The bacteria that cause abscesses in deer and elk can be transferred to other animals if the bacteria contaminate the environment. Exposure to pus can transfer infections to humans through open wounds, sores or knife cuts.
Samples to Collect
If there is concern about this condition, contact a conservation officer or an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office. Appropriate samples can be collected for testing if deemed necessary.
Can I Eat The Meat?
If the abscess is small or localized, judicious trimming to remove the affected tissue should render the meat suitable for human consumption. If the abscesses are numerous, invade the thoracic or abdominal cavity, or are present in the lungs or liver, the carcass should be condemned for human consumption.
What is IDFG doing to help manage this disease?:

There are no preventive or control measures that can be done for wild species.