Hemorrhagic disease is being found in the Missouri deer population

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JEFFERESON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation is reporting low levels of hemorrhagic disease in deer around the state.  Hemorrhagic disease occurs naturally and is spread in deer through the bite of the native midge fly and it is spread between July and October when the fly is most active.

Most recently the disease in deer has been confirmed through testing in Boone, Camden, Cole, Jackson, Linn, and Osage counties. With around 100 reports of suspected cases from around the state.

“Hemorrhagic disease has been recognized in Missouri for many decades,” explained department Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Jasmine Batten.  “We get reports of suspected cases every year.”

Batten added that hemorrhagic disease can have severe impacts on localized deer numbers during some years with high infection rates, but transmission of the disease ends in the fall when heavier frost kills the midge flies. Hemorrhagic disease can be fatal to infected deer, but some deer survive and develop immunity and deer populations are able to recover between outbreaks.

“Clinical signs of hemorrhagic disease in deer vary but may include an unwillingness to move; difficulty breathing; and swelling of the head, neck, or tongue,” Batten said. “Hemorrhagic disease can cause a high fever, prompting infected deer to seek out water sources.  Deer that are sick may appear dazed, lethargic, and nonresponsive to the approach of people.  Deer that die from hemorrhagic disease usually do so in a matter of days and are often found dead in or near water with no outward signs of illness.”

She added that the disease is not directly contagious between infected deer and it is not known to infect people.

The Missouri Department of Conservation asks the public to report suspected cases of hemorrhagic disease to their local department office.

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