JACKSON, Miss. (WNN) — Mississippi wildlife officials said Wednesday that they have received reports of an increasing number of sick or dead deer in the past few weeks.
Biologists from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks suspect the state may be in the midst of an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease also known as blue tongue. Bronson Strickland, a wildlife expert at Mississippi State University Extension, said the hemorrhagic disease is caused by a virus and is transmitted from deer to deer by midges or gnats.
“The virus causes internal bleeding and sometimes rapid death,” he said. “The virus can cause ulcers that can disrupt digestion.”
Strickland said deer infected with the virus would also have fevers and would seek water to cool their body temperatures. He said deer that died of the virus are often found near water.
“Far more often, deer become infected, but are able to cope with the virus and will not suffer any long-term harm, other than telltale indicators that they had the virus,” he said. “This is often seen with deer harvested in the fall and their hooves appear to have been removed. A fever that a deer experiences while fighting off the virus will hinder hoof development, but the hoof will grow back. ”
The department’s deer program coordinator, William T. McKinley said the HD outbreak is tracked through reports from poachers and the occurrence of deer hooves cut every season.
McKinley said Mississippi has gone four years in a row with low HD virus activity.
To report sick deer call the Department of Wildlife at 601.432.2199.