Deer in SW Va. dying from viral disease

Nick Shepherd • Aug 23, 2017 at 5:00 PM

A viral disease is killing deer in the Southwest Virginia region with most being reported near the Pound River in Wise County, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The disease, known as hemorrhagic disease, has caused a number of deer mortalities in several counties. Citizens from Dickenson, Lee and Wise counties have reported dead or dying deer with hemorrhagic disease symptoms to the department, the release stated.

There have also been reports of the same symptoms from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Hemorrhagic disease is a common infectious disease of white-tailed deer. Outbreaks occur annually throughout the Southeast but is rare in the western part of the commonwealth, the release said. The disease is characterized by healthy looking deer being found dead or drying near or in water during late summer and early fall. It is transmitted by biting flies.

The disease poses no threats to people or domestic pets like dogs or cats. It cannot be spread by direct contact with infected animals. And not all deer will die from the disease.

Hunters are not at risk from handling or eating meat from infected deer. But the department said infections secondary to the disease could be developed and deer that look obviously sick should not be eaten.

A decrease in the deer population is expected due to the outbreak, according to the release. There is no vaccine or medication to combat the disease and it will continue until the first frost kills the insects that carry it.

If you have observed sick or dead deer in your area and suspect HD may be the cause, please report it to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regional office in Wise at (276) 376-4560 or to the Wildlife Helpline at (855) 571-9003.

For more information on HD go to https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/hd/