Thought I'd share something I received from Kentucky Game & Fish.
Hemorrhagic Disease Suspected in Kentucky Deer Deaths
From Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is investigating recent reports of white-tailed deer deaths in 11 counties, primarily in western Kentucky. Officials suspect the animals died of hemorrhagic disease.
The most significant outbreak is in McLean County, where more than 20 deer have been reported dead. Officials have also received reports of deer deaths in Breckinridge, Christian, Daviess, Hopkins, Logan, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Simpson and Webster counties.
"Hemorrhagic disease is caused by a virus," said Danny Watson, a wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "We see large outbreaks about every two years in Kentucky,"
With deer hunting seasons opening next month, hunters are concerned about the safety of eating deer that may be infected with hemorrhagic disease. Hemorrhagic disease is not infectious to humans.
Biting gnats transmit hemorrhagic disease between deer. Hemorrhagic disease usually occurs in late summer and early fall because of the increased presence of these biting gnats. Although deer affected with the acute form of hemorrhagic disease are most often seen in late summer, deer with chronic cases can be found in winter.
Hemorrhagic disease occurs annually in the southeastern United States, but its distribution and severity of occurrence widely varies. Less than 25 percent of the deer in a population usually die from the disease, but death rates can be higher in certain cases.
Signs of the disease depend on the strength of the virus and length of infection in the animal. Hemorrhagic disease causes fever, labored breathing and swelling of the head, neck, tongue and eyelids. Infected deer may die within 72 hours, or they may slowly deteriorate for months from lameness and starvation. Early in the cycle of the disease, animals may show little or no sign of infection. Infected deer that survive for a period of time experience lameness, loss of appetite and greatly reduced activity.
In some instances, outbreaks occurred simultaneously in deer, sheep and cattle. This is not due to the disease spreading from deer to livestock or vice versa, but is an indication the biting gnats are present in significant numbers to transmit disease.