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Thread: Infection from Bears??

  1. #1
    Member shirtr's Avatar
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    Default Infection from Bears??

    Has anyone heard of this sort of thing?? Found this on an Alberta site that I check out.

    "I thought that I would give this info out .I've been hunting for 25 yrs and this is the first for me .
    I have a good friend that was lucky enough to be invited on a Alaska brown bear hunt with his cousin as a spectator as his cousin would be the hunter .They killed a monster bear on the second day,and as would be the case the skining chores where shared by all.This is where the warning comes in .This particular bear was very old and he as also beat up,full of infections.2 days after the skinning my friends thumb started to swell and become very sore .Long story short he has to go in for antibiotics daily now ,his cousin was admitted to hospital this morning in Reno where he lives. They both have a severe infecton that has a few different names ,Bear finger,Bear hand ,Seal finger,Blubberfinger.There is very little info on this and they are having a hard time getting treatment that works.I as far as know they are being well looked after ,in the worst case amputation will occur to stop the blood poisioning .If anyone has info let me know and besure to be carefull when handling bears as we have found some cases in Alberta".

  2. #2

    Default Oh yeah....

    If you can find them there are some real ugly pictures of a guys hand on this site or Pristine Ventures. Serious stuff. I still don't wear gloves most of the time when I skin moose, caribou and bears, but I should. Not that they would help if I stuck my self with a knife.

  3. #3
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Bear Finger...

    This is a great reminder that we all need to to super safety conscious. I have heard of two prior terrible infections that were the result of bear skinning and fleshing. One case about 12 years ago involved an airman from Elmendorf who was concerning that he would end up with fewer fingers, and he did lose partial use of his right hand because of one of these infections.

    Bears, even those that appear and smell clean, are all rather funky at the bacteria level. I seldon use rubber gloves when working on animals other than bears. But even when I do wear surgical gloves I have nicked myself. Frankly, I can't split a bears lips without cutting up my left thumb and trigger finger. And a few times those knife nicks resulted in an infection that seemed to last awhile. Fortunately, each time the infection subsided without any special med attention. But I'm always leary of bear pelts and open wounds.

    I would be surprised if one of our forum members does not add a "this happened to me" type story to this thread.

    Dennis
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    Member Fuse's Avatar
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    Default Heard of it

    Yes,
    I have heard of it, also know by the Norwegians as spekk-finger. Often it was found amongst hunters who harvested seals and had open cuts or punctured the skin with a seal bone. As far as I know then never found a definite cause of it, but think it's bacterial in origin and often treat it with tetracycline. I don't know about bears, by my taxidermist always told me to wear gloves because of the diseases they can carry, to include trichinosis, as well as other pests like fleas.

    Paul

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default

    I have never heard of this.. in animals however from commercial fishing i have, seen lots of guys with hands and fingers swelled to an unrecognizable point. could it be possible the bears Diet of fish and the time of the year?
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  6. #6

    Default infections

    Seal finger is real, and can be contracted from polar bears who in turn are carrying the infectious agent from their prey. It is thought to be caused by Mycoplasma sp., and is responsive to tetracycline or doxicyline. Most physicians are not used to prescribing these antibiotics (may cause dental stains).

    Bears other than polar bears can give you nasty infections as well, but the injuries almost always respond to broad spectrum antibiotics and thus are not considered to be the same as seal finger. Nevertheless, you can be severely injured by not promptly dealing with an infection from skinning a bear. Get prompt treatment BEFORE the cut gets really bad.

    The Mycoplasma sp. was isolated from a person with seal finger, and has been implicated in large scale die-offs of seals in parts of Europe. The agent can be isolated from oral swabs from many seals. Its possible a Kodiak brown bear had been foraging on seals or some other marine mammal that could have had Mycoplasma infecition, but doubtful. However if the folks are as bad off as it sounds, tetracycline might help.

  7. #7
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Default

    It happens, my father came up in spring 2004 and I shot a decent 8'10" brown. He had a few nicks in his hands but declined wearing gloves while helping skin and flesh the bear. His right hand started to swell upon returning to Montana, went to local hospital who sent him to Great Falls (larger town) where he had the often referred to "Bear Finger", they kept him there over night, said they might have to cut his middle finger off. They made a zig zag cut from the center of his palm to near the tip of his finger then placed his hand in a rinsing solution for a period. Gave him some pills and he had to return for a few check ups but he managed to keep the finger. Funny when we were sealing the bear at ADF&G the gal warned us of someone who had it prior and had to be sent to Juneau for a similar treatment, we did not give it much thought but it pays to think about it. Before that I had saw some fake photos that circulate the web but never thought it could happen.
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    Member Cast&Blast's Avatar
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    Unhappy Bear Finger???

    I'm fricking paranoid now. Going to start packing some latex surgical gloves in the ol' back pack. Thanks for the safety reminder.

  9. #9
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    Default bear finger/ fish finger?

    I have not experienced "bear finger," but I have had "fish finger" a couple times. It is a bacterial infection, carried mainly in the mouth- just a little scrape from a salmon tooth is enough to do me in. Last time I had it, I soaked in Epsom salts, drank Kombucha, ate massive doses of garlic and echinacea, and applied tea tree oil topically. I did not have to visit the doctor at all for antibiotics- a huge relief, as it usually ends up costing close to $1,000 by the time its said and done.

  10. #10

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    Im a taxidermist and i can back this story up... all critters carry something wether it be infectious to us or to family pets... you have to be careful with what you put your hands on. myself skinning lots of animals ive seen lots of wierd things like worms inside animals or whats crawling on the outside..... like the man below said be careful
    God Created Man Samuel Colt Made Them Equal

  11. #11

    Default

    The infection often is Tuluremia, it is passed form rodents(rabbit fever), particularly squirrels and hares to the bear when they are eaten. The same infection can be had from skinning/dressing out those same rodents. General rule is when skinning/dressing rodents or predators : WEAR GLOVES.

    To my knowledge this is not a concern with ungulates.

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    Smile

    I`ve been wearing those light medical type goves for a long time now. That was prompted
    by reports of just what your are refering to ...infections.
    CWD is in the area that I hunt in so I figure before i "go in".. I need to look like Dr Kildare.

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    I have been using the latex gloves for years both in the field and at work when messing with cleaning solvents. Things are changing, at first any brand seemed to be OK, the last couple of years most are coming out of China and are not tough enough for skinning, tugging and pulling on big game. I wish I could recommend a brand but can't. My wife is a CNA and assured me that the Wal-Mart, Sam's club ones are junk, I found out the hard way

  14. #14
    Member Matt M's Avatar
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    Smile

    I'll throw in my 2 cents worth. A few years ago I was helping a friend skin his black bear out. I was using an Xacto knife and I flipped the hide and was holding the knife...well you can guess. I buried the blade up to the handle on a short blade. I pulled it out, took off my rubber glove and made sure it bled for a while before applying a dressing.

    I had no problems and can only assume the glove wiped the majority of the contaminants off the blade. I am also very optomistic and lucky. If you do get a cut like I did, do NOT try to seal it up as you are just making it worse.

    BTW, I would recommend buying dishwashing gloves if the surgical gloves don't stand up. the new nitryl gloves seem to work for me.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default

    I saw the same thing happen to a forum member a few years ago. He cut his hand skinning a black bear while hunting PWS. As I remember he healed okay, but it did get me to start wearing gloves while skinning. I use the thin cloth gloves that are dipped in latex. They are tougher and stand up to the task and have saved me from numerous minor cuts, as the fingers of my last pair show. The regular latex gloves are too thin for me. Here is a photo of me wearing the gloves skinning a brown bear.


    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"

  16. #16
    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Default gloves

    Quote Originally Posted by Parson View Post
    I have been using the latex gloves for years both in the field and at work when messing with cleaning solvents. Things are changing, at first any brand seemed to be OK, the last couple of years most are coming out of China and are not tough enough for skinning, tugging and pulling on big game. I wish I could recommend a brand but can't. My wife is a CNA and assured me that the Wal-Mart, Sam's club ones are junk, I found out the hard way
    I started ordering Nytril gloves from Harbor Freight, they are much stronger than latex. You do loose a little feel but that is better than loosing feeling.

  17. #17

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    Pretty interesting info fellows. I am glad you brought it to our attention (for those of us who were ignorant concerning the matter). I have never killed a grizzly but I plan on hunting them next year. Also, are fleas a major issue with bears? When I used to trap (before kids, etc.) fleas were always a problem on fox and coyotes. I wonder if the same malady affects bears.

  18. #18
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Parson View Post
    I have been using the latex gloves for years both in the field and at work when messing with cleaning solvents. Things are changing, at first any brand seemed to be OK, the last couple of years most are coming out of China and are not tough enough for skinning, tugging and pulling on big game. I wish I could recommend a brand but can't. My wife is a CNA and assured me that the Wal-Mart, Sam's club ones are junk, I found out the hard way
    well for starts on brands i am allergic to latex.. ( count my kids) but the BLUE Nitrol Gloves are much tougher. i get contractor grade painting gloves at Lowe's. and other hardware stores...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  19. #19
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default parasites...

    I have not seen fleas or tick like critters on either black or brown bears...but I have seen a lot of large round worms in their guts. Alien looking worms four inches long. Not a good thought before cooking that bear roast.
    Dennis

  20. #20
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default

    Fleas, nothing that I've killed here has had fleas. However, my taxidermist in Valdez this spring got bitten badly by fleas while fleshing bears that were killed in the Valdez area.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"

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