This hunting season, it is important to remember the diseases that are plaguing deer. Hemorrhagic disease, a generalized name for both epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and bluetongue virus (BTV), kill more deer (whitetail, blacktail and mule deer) than any other disease. Spread by a small midge fly, also known as gnats, the diseases kill nearly 50 to 90 percent of infected deer. Hemorrhagic disease attacks a deer’s blood clotting ability, resulting in hemorrhaging in the organs and tissues. Symptoms include fever, swollen necks, tongues and eyelids, excessive salivation, abnormal growth of hooves, lethargy and an emaciated appearance. Surviving deer develop antibodies to the disease, but this immunity does not guarantee that a deer will not be susceptible to future strains of the virus.
Fortunately, hemorrhagic disease cannot be transferred to humans through consumption or contact with infected deer. However, experts suggest that any animal that appears diseased should not be eaten or handled. There is currently no cure for hemorrhagic disease. Anyone finding a deer that appears to be diseased or a dead carcass should immediately contact a conservation officer in their area.
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