Causative Agent
  • An abscess is a pus-filled pocket situated within animal tissues surrounded by a wall of scar tissue. An abscess may form after a wound is infected by bacteria and cannot drain.
  • Abscesses may form as a result of external injuries or from internal infections.
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Abscesses and pus within caribou muscle.
Geographic and Seasonality:
  • Abscesses may occur in wildlife throughout the year and throughout British Columbia.
Species Affected
  • Abscesses can occur in a variety of species in northern British Columbia.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Abscesses are usually characterized by a whitish, soft to firm lump that contains thick white, or yellowish-green, often foul-smelling, pus.
  • Animals with abscesses may appear healthy without any outwards signs of disease.
  • Most abscesses are found during the butchering process and can be found throughout the body.
  • The severity of an abscess is dependent on the location in the body, the pressure it may exert on nearby tissues, the amount of tissue destroyed, its age and amount of bacterial toxins that are produced.
Meat Edible?
  • Portions of meat that contain abscesses should not be eaten. If numerous abscesses are present throughout many organs, the animal may not be suitable for human consumption.
  • If a single abscess is present, it can be trimmed out and the remainder of the carcass is usually suitable for human consumption.
Human Health Concerns and Risk Reduction
  • Care should be taken to not cut into an abscess as bacteria in pus can spread to other locations and contaminate other parts of the carcass.
Samples for Diagnosis
  • The entire abscess should be collected as well as any surrounding tissue; samples can be frozen.
Further Reading
Return to Manual Home Page Disease List - Body Region Affected Disease List - Causative Agent or Risk Factor Disease Surveillance Form Glossary Contact Information
Return to Manual Home Page Return to Disease List - Body Region Affected Return to Disease List - Causative Agent or Risk Factor Disease Surveillance Form Download Glossary Contact Information