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Papillomas (Warts)
July 2015

Closeup photo of a deer jaw covered in warts
Closeup photo a bisected wart.
Photo of a deer walking in the woods with multiple warts covering its body.

What Are They?

Papillomas (also known as fibromas, papillomas, fibropapillomas, or warts), are growths on the skin. They are firm, hairless, gray or black in color, can be smooth or rough in texture, as small as peas or as large as footballs, and may grow in clusters. They may be found anywhere on the animal's body. These growths are caused by viruses that are contagious within the same species. Papilloma viruses that infect one species usually do not infect another species. Typically, papillomas will eventually outgrow their blood supply and fall off.

Species Affected

All species of mammals are probably susceptible to their own type of papilloma virus, but in Washington papillomas are most frequently observed on deer, elk, and moose. These growths do not usually cause the animal any harm unless they are in a location that impedes the animal's ability to see, eat, or walk.

How are papillomas spread?

Papilloma viruses may be are transferred from animal to animal by biting insects, direct contact, or sharing rubbing posts and bedding sites. Papillomas are most frequently seen during the late summer and into the fall, probably due to increased biting insect activity during this time of year.

Do papillomas affect people?

No. The viruses that cause papillomas in wildlife are not contagious to humans.

What about pets and livestock?

Pets and livestock are not susceptible to the viruses that cause papillomas in wildlife. However, they can become infected with papilloma viruses that affect their own species.

Can I Eat the Meat?

Yes. Papillomas are limited to the skin and can easily be trimmed away. The meat from animals with papillomas is suitable for consumption.