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Possible Cases of Hemorrhagic Disease Found in Arkansas

From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

-- Hunters and landowners in Lawrence and Sharp counties have reported some deer and livestock dying from a possible outbreak of Hemorrhagic Disease.
 
"I was approached by a sportsman on Saturday at Ravenden who had found five deer dead around a spring on the property he hunts on the Lawrence/Sharp County Line in September," said James Foster, area biologist for Big Lake Wildlife Management Area.

"To do any type of testing and confirm the case, we would need to have fresh carcasses, but the symptoms described sounded like it was probably HD."

"A landowner in Lawrence County reported 20 deer on his property," said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Deer Program Assistant Coordinator Cory Gray. "He also reported 19 of his goats had died."

According to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia, cases of hemorrhagic are routinely reported near the end of each summer.

"Small outbreaks like this are fairly routine and are nothing to be alarmed about," said Brad Miller, AGFC deer program coordinator.

"The overall health of Arkansas's deer herd is very strong."

Hemorrhagic disease is caused by bluetongue virus and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, which are spread by blood-sucking midges, known as "gnats" or "no-see-ums."

Infected deer may appear lame or lose their fear of humans; swelling of the head, neck and tongue may be apparent, as well as excessive salivation. Dying deer are often found near water sources, as the fever associated with infection leads to intense thirst.

Some deer survive, and will exhibit "sloughing" or cracking hooves and healing ulcers on the tongue and lining of the mouth. Deer with signs of the disease are generally safe for human consumption, but hunters should be careful because secondary bacterial infections may cause the meat to be unsafe to eat.

Although hemorrhagic disease is not harmful to humans, hunters are asked to report any deer showing signs of the disease immediately to the AGFC at (800) 482-9262. Biologists may want to take a sample from the deer to confirm the case.

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