Illinois Department of Public Health, Food Safety Fact Sheet

Wild Game Meat

What is wild game?

Game are wild animals and birds. Large native game animals living in America include antelope, buffalo, bear, deer, elk, moose, reindeer, and wild boar. Small game includes alligator, rabbit, squirrel, beaver, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, armadillo, and porcupine. Some common game birds include partridge, squab (young pigeon), quail, pheasant, wild ducks, wild geese, and wild turkey.

What are the pathogens that can be present in wild game meat?

Wild game meat may carry certain bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella. Other bacterial diseases like brucellosis and tuberculosis can be carried by wild game in some areas of the United States. Wild game also can carry parasites which can be passed on to humans through contact or consumption.

What are the symptoms that may result from some infections caused by eating wild game meat?

Persons who become ill after consuming wild game should contact their health care provider.

Prevention and Proper Cooking Guidelines

For more information on field dressing, processing, or storing wild game, contact your local University of Illinois Extension office and ask for the pamphlets Guide to Care and Handling of Deer and Guide to Care and Handling of Game Birds.


To learn more about foodborne illness and ways to prevent it, talk to your health care professional, your local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Food, Drugs and Dairies.

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