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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Parasites and Diseases

A Field Guide


caption follows
Abscesses and green pus in caribou muscle.

What causes abscesses?
  • An abscess is a pocket of pus in an animal’s tissue. It is usually caused when a wound becomes infected.

Where do abscesses occur?
  • They may occur in any species of animal.
  • In Alaska, abscesses occur periodically in a variety of species.

What are the signs of an abscess?
  • Animals usually appear healthy and may not show any signs of disease.
  • Most abscesses are found while butchering.
  • Abscesses can be found anywhere on or inside the body in muscle or other tissue.
  • Usually, they are firm lumps of white fibrous tissue filled with thick white or green pus.

How can I protect myself?
  • Be careful not to cut into an abscess. If this happens, pus can be spread and contaminate other parts of the carcass.

Can I eat the meat?
  • Portions of meat containing abscesses should not be eaten.
  • The rest of the carcass is suitable for human consumption.

Samples to collect
  • Abscess and surrounding tissue.
  • To report an occurrence or to submit a sample for identification/analysis, contact the DWC Wildlife Disease Surveillance reporting hotline 907-328-8354, send an email to or visit your local ADF&G office.
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