Animal blood. The very mention to some conjures up thoughts of disgust. But, sometimes,
its all you can get, and though not great, its better then nothing at all. Like all
blood, though, there are risks involved, and that what I want to address here.
The most common types of animal blood are cow, sheep, chicken, pig, goose, and deer. This is
because these are the most common types of animals taken to slaughter. As you will see, most of the disease result from poor slaughter technique allowing for contamination of the meat. However, as we tend to eat undercook or raw meat, and of course raw blood, these disease become more of an issue for us. The "Affected Species" includes those we are most likely to come into contact with, but is not a complete list of carriers of the diseases.
Aside from the zoonotic diseases* associated with each, however, there are also legal issues. Not all states or countries
allow the sale of blood for human consumption, so you will have to check in your area
if you can or not.
If you worry about seeming too odd, you can always Take a Recipe With You
Anthrax: Caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Uncommon transmisstal, however is possible to contract by drinking infected blood that has been exposed to air. Ingestion would cause gastrointestinal signs: edema of the mouth and throat, gastric ulcers, bloody diarrhea, hemorrhage of the lymph nodes, shock, and death. Fatality rate high. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine
Ascariasis: Caused by a nematode (Roundworm) intestinal parasite. Usually involves fecal contamination of raw meat or blood. In humans there may be no symptoms, or you may note the worms in your stool, vomit up the worms, have a low fever, cough with bloody sputum, wheezing, short breath, skin rash or stomach pain depending on teh life stage and number of worms.
Affected Species: Swine, Dogs, Cats
Brucellosis: Caused by multiple types of Brucella bacteria species. Currently regularly tested and vaccinated for in the United States. More widespread in Latin America and the Middle East. Signs include a fluctuating fever, headache, chills, weakness, muscle and joint pain, weight loss, testicular infection in men and abortion in pregnant women. May cause chronic liver disease, heart disease, colitis or meningitis. Fatality rate is fairly low except when the heart muscle is infected. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine, Dogs
Campylobacteriosis: Caused by the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. Infection occurs when fecal-contaminated blood or raw meat is ingested. Bacteria usually resides in the gastrointestinal tract. Most common cause of bacterial diarrhea in humans. Generally self limiting. 0.1% of Campylobacter infections cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune disease affecting the nerves and central nervous system. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Birds
Cryptosporidium: Caused by the protozoa Cryptosporidium parvum. Infection occurs when fecal-contaminated blood or raw meat is ingested. Bacteria usually resides in the gastrointestinal tract. it is highly infectious, highly resistant, and there is no 100% successful treatment. Causes a self-limiting diarrhea in most humans, but can be life-threatening or fatal in immunocompromised individuals. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine
Cystercircosis: Caused by Taenia saginata, a tapeworm-type intestinal parasite. Immature forms are encysted into the muscle of cattle. Can infect humans if the meat is undercooked when eaten. Typically causes only mild abdominal signs, however can cause appendicitis from the migrating larvae.
Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine
Erysipeloid: Caused by the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. Fecal contamination of raw blood or meat can occur at slaughter. Causes arthritis of the fingers, septicemia and/or endocarditis in its systemic form. If infection occurs via the skin, it causes a very itchy rash. Affected species: Swine, Birds
Escherichia coli: Specifically the O157:H7 serotype which causes a watery diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremia syndrome in humans. The Hemolytic-uremic syndrome is characterized by hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia and renal failure. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Deer, Birds
Giardiasis: Caused by the flagellate protozoa Giardia intestinalis/duodenalis. Cattle can serve as a resivour for the protozoa, but transmission from them is less common than by contaminated water or household pets. Causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss.Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Cats, Dogs
Influenza: Viral disease. With the recent "Bird Flu" news stories, we should all be aware of this potential for cross-species infection. Affected Species: Swine, Birds
Leptospirosis: Caused by the bacterial spirochete Leptospira interrogans. Most commonly acquired from rats, but cattle can carry the bacteria as well. Transmission by ingestion of urine-contaminated meat or blood. Causes fever and flu-like symptoms in humans, progressing to headaches, muscle pain, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, conjunctivitis and conjunctival hemorrhage. Some serovars affect the liver and kidney, leading to failure of these organs, lung hemorrhage is also possible. Untreated, the mortality rate is ~20%.Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine, Dogs
Mycobacterium bovis: Caused by Mycobacterium bovis bacterium. Routinely tested for in the US, eliminated from most states. A person with active tuberculosis may have a cought for greater than 3 weeks, chest pain, cough up blood, weakness, weight loss, inappetence, chills, fever, and night sweats. Chest radiographs will show lung lesions. Treatment is available. Affected Species: Cattle, Deer
Prion Disease: See Prions, Kuru, Cannibals and Sanguinarians For the most information. Affected Species: Cattle, Deer, Sheep, Elk, Cats, Ferrets
Q-fever: Caused by the ricketsia Coxiella burnetii. Less common in cattle then sheep. Contracted through contamination with fecal or urine matter on raw meats or blood. Extremely infectious. Causes acute fever with weakness, muscle pain, headache, chills and sweats. It can also lead to infection of the lungs, heart, pericardium, liver, nerve lining, or bones. If treated, mortality is less than 1%. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats
Rabies: Viral disease affecting the brain. Virus can be found in saliva, blood, and milk. Only one case of a human living after infection. Transmission typically through contamination of a cut or scratch. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine, Dogs, Cats, Ferrets
Salmonellosis: Multiple salmonella species, however Salmonella typhimurium is the most common contaminant of meat or blood from cattle. Contamination occurs from fecal matter. Causes fever, headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. May cause dehydration and speticemia if not treated. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine, Birds, Reptiles
Tuleremia: Caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. Can be aquired from eating undercooked game meats. Four forms of the disease are seen with ingestion of the organism: Oculoglandular (swollen lymph nodes, photophobia, tearing of the eyes, corneal ulcers), Exudative pharyngeal (swollen lymph nodes and a severe sore throat), Systemic (loose/watery diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, though can vary), and Pneumonic (fever, cough, chest pain, and bloody phlegm). Affected Species: Sheep, Rabbits, Cats
Trichinellosis or Trichinosis: Caused by the parasite Trichinella spiralis. Encysts in the muscle of many different animals. Infestation caused by eating contaminated meat that is undercooked. Larval migration can cause muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis. Affected Species: Deer, Bear, Swine
Yersinia enterocolitica: Important due to the fact Yersinia enterocolitica can continue to replicate even in refrigerator conditions. Causes fever, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain in humans. Affected Species: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Swine
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis: Bacterium which can be found in soil and water as well as in animal carriers. Causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and septicemia in humans. Affected Species: Swine, Birds
*Zoonotic disease: Any disease which can be passed from a non-human animal to a human.
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