Can you eat an animal with rabies? (3 Precautions to follow)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat an animal with rabies? We will discuss the risks associated with rabid animals and protect yourself while hunting, butchering, or coming in contact with the virus.

Can you eat an animal with rabies?

You can not eat an animal with rabies. Even if you cook the meat thoroughly, do not eat the game meat of an animal that you think was suffering from rabies.

When an infected animal has been cooked to doneness, it kills the virus and makes the meat safe. However, it is still not advised to eat such an animal for the sake of your safety. 

The WHO advises strongly advises against eating meat infected with rabies. Even though there hasn’t been any reported transmission of the rabid virus, it is theoretically possible. 

Eating meat from a rabid animal or butchering can potentially transmit the disease; therefore, it is best to be safe than sorry.

What is rabies?

Rabies is an impairment of the central nervous system that affects animals. The viral infection leads to paralysis and then death. The animal lives for only a few days after contracting the virus. The virus called Neurotropic lyssavirus is found in the saliva of the animal. 

Rabies can infect any mammal. Around 93 percent of rabid animals belong to the wild. However, it can affect domestic animals as well. Rabies is found in bats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, even cats, and dogs. 

An animal affected by the virus exhibits signs and symptoms that might help identify a sick animal. Most animals appear to lose the fear of humans and; salivate excessively. Some infected animals could be found lying on the ground.

The virus affects the central nervous system, therefore causing an animal to behave abnormally. It can also be asymptomatic; the animal might not exhibit signs of being rabid and still be infected.

If the virus transmits to a person, only preventative treatment could help a person not develop the disease. If the virus is exposed through infected nervous tissue or saliva, it becomes fatal.

Rabies is not a prion disease but also affects an individual who comes in contact with the saliva of an affected animal. The virus makes its way through the spinal cord to the brain.

The person who contracts the virus manifests abnormal behavior. The clinical signs manifest a few days or months later after being infected.

How to prevent contracting rabies from a game animal?

DO not eat an animal that appears to be sick or behaved strangely before death. When you handle the animal, avoid making contact with animal tissue, blood, urine, or feces, and if it touches you, wash the affected part thoroughly.

Separate the utensils, knives, and tools that you use to butcher game meat. Do not use regular kitchen tools to avoid contamination. Sanitize any surface that comes in contact, or you suspect it might have, with either animal tissue, blood, urine, or feces of the animal. Use chemical sanitizers such as bleach to disinfect, dry, and rinse with clean water. Finally, let it air dry again.

Cook the meat thoroughly. Game meat must not be eaten undercooked or raw. A high risk of developing diseases is present because raw meat has bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. Cooking kills the rabid virus, among others, and makes meat safe to consume. 

If a person comes in contact with the virus, the vaccination called postexposure prophylaxis is administered, soon as possible.

How does rabies transmit?

Rabies spreads through saliva, tears, and nervous tissue; it does not transmit by the animal’s blood, urine, or feces. 

Rabies travels mainly through saliva. When a person is bitten by an infected animal and a scratch, abrasions, or open wounds occurs; the transmission can happen. When the mucous membrane comes in contact with saliva or brain tissue, the person can get rabies.

The butcher or the person who slaughters the meat is at a higher risk of developing the infection. The person who handles the tissue can get the virus through wounds or broken skin. It is advised to wash hands thoroughly and sanitizes when coming in direct or indirect contact with meat. 

It is not air-borne; does not thrive in the open air. Moreover, drinking milk from a rabid animal also does not cause you to contract the disease. However, it is still advised to refrain from eating the meat or drinking the milk of an infected animal. 

The carcass of the animal that was suffering from any kind of infection should be buried or burned. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat an animal with rabies? We discussed the risks associated with rabid animals and protect yourself while hunting, butchering, or coming in contact with the virus.

If you’ve enjoyed ”Can you eat an animal with rabies?”, take a look at ”Can you get sick from eating something a mouse chewed on?” too.

Citations

https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/health_advisories/advice_on_eating_game.htm

chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://www.who.int/rabies/Rabies_General_Public_FAQs_21Sep2018.pdf?ua=1

https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/transmission/index.html

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.