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Virginia DGIF Confirms Hemorrhagic Disease Affecting Deer Populations

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  • Virginia DGIF Confirms Hemorrhagic Disease Affecting Deer Populations

    HD in VirginiaMany hunters in Virginia have heard about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer, but not quite as many have heard about Hemorrhagic Disease. Even fewer hunters realize the state has some significant concerns regarding HD in Virginias whitetail deer populations right now. Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is a virus that affects both domestic and wild hoofed animals, which is transmitted by being bitten by midges carrying the virus. Virginians know midges better as no-see-ums.

    VA Outdoors was made aware of the DGIF's concerns from a source that was briefed by the state agency, and their concern for HD in several counties including Franklin and surrounding counties, as well as Fairfax and surrounding counties. West Virginia has also recently seen an outbreak of EHD.

    According to DGIF, HD is caused by two closely related viruses, epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or bluetongue virus. There are 2 subtypes of EHD virus and 5 subtypes of bluetongue in North America. Because disease features produced by these viruses are indistinguishable, a general term, hemorrhagic disease, often is used when the specific virus is unknown.

    Whitetails with HD can show signs in varying degrees. Initially, whitetail deer appear feverish and depressed according to DGIF, followed by signs of a swollen head or neck, as well as a possible swollen tongue and eyelids. Deer will also have difficulty in breathing. In cases of a severe infection, many deer will die within three days of the infection.

    However, some deer can be infected and slowly go downhill over several weeks. They may slowly lose their appetite, and eventually become disabled before dying. The fever associated with HD often pushes deer to seek out water. Most hunters will find that these deer have died in or around creeks, streams and ponds.

    These outbreaks occur most commonly at the end of summer and early fall when conditions are right. Once the temperatures change, and the cold knocks back the biting flies, the spread of HD is diminished. The key indicators are typically mild winters followed by hot summers and drought conditions in the month of June.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	hd-distribution.gif Views:	0 Size:	10.8 KB ID:	106735Outbreaks of HD in Virginias deer populations occur each year, but many outbreaks are small in relative size. 2014 was the last major outbreak of HD in Virginias deer population. On the high end, some outbreaks cause upwards of a 50% loss of localized populations, while less extreme outbreaks have been under a 20-25% rate of loss.

    If you find deer that appear to be sick, please leave the animal undisturbed and reach out to DGIF at 804-367-1000.

    • Tundra
      #1
      Tundra commented
      Editing a comment
      I remember how agressive it was back in 2014
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