Hunters cautioned: sick deer in TX

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors' started by suburbanite, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    This is from the mailing list of the infectious disease professional society.

    Basically, something is killing deer in Texas. They think that it is previously known deer-only disease, but haven't obtained enough samples to confirm that yet. For the present they are advising hunters to be extremely careful about dressing deer in the affected areas, until they confirm that the problem does not represent a threat to humans.

    Here's the post. Comments in brackets at the bottom are by a veterinary infectious disease expert:

    A ProMED-mail post
    ProMED-mail is a program of the
    International Society for Infectious Diseases

    Date: 13 Sep 2006
    From: ProMED-mail<>
    Source: AgNews: News and Public Affairs, Texas A&M University
    Agriculture Program [edited]

    With deer season just around the corner, deer experts are concerned
    about reports of an unusually high number of dead deer in several
    West Central Texas counties. Dr. Dale Rollins, Texas Cooperative
    Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo, said most of the calls
    he has received are from Schleicher County landowners who have found
    dead deer at water sources. The affected region encompasses an area
    roughly from Eden to Ozona to Sterling City, said Dr. Don Davis,
    Texas Agricultural Experiment Station veterinary pathobiologist.

    "While some level of deer mortality is not newsworthy, it looks like
    we have a hot-spot developing for epizootic hemorrhagic disease,"
    Rollins said. "Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is a viral disease very
    similar to bluetongue in sheep and cattle, but EHD tends to be most
    common in white-tailed deer. When you see an abnormal number of dead
    deer in August and September, and the mortalities are near water
    holes, epizootic hemorrhagic disease is often the culprit."

    Davis agreed with Rollins that so far, the first-hand reports he's
    received are consistent with bluetongue and/or epizootic hemorrhagic
    disease in white-tailed deer.

    "Both diseases are viral in nature and both are vectored or spread by
    small biting flies called Culicoides." Davis said. "Epizootic
    hemorrhagic disease is seen clinically only in white-tailed deer
    while bluetongue can affect other species, including sheep and
    exotics. To my knowledge, only one necropsy by a veterinarian has
    been made," he said "I have had conversations with wildlife
    biologists and ranchers with experience or training that have
    observed signs, symptoms and particularly the gross lesions
    consistent with both diseases. So, bottom line is, it appears to be a
    fairly widespread outbreak of bluetongue or epizootic hemorrhagic
    disease. But we cannot entirely rule out other diseases."

    Davis said neither bluetongue virus nor epizootic hemorrhagic disease
    are a threat to public health, but since a definite diagnosis is yet
    to be made, extreme caution should be used when handling dead deer in
    the affected area.

    Rollins said deer deaths attributed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease
    are seasonally predictable, but unpredictable about where mortalities
    will crop up from year to year.

    More information on epizootic hemorrhagic disease can be found at:

    Contact: Dr. Dale Rollins, >

    [Byline: Steve Byrns,


    [There have been reports of excess deaths in Texas deer for a few
    weeks now, including in Jim Hogg County in South Texas. Because of
    deer ranch problems over submissions to TVMDL [Texas Veterinary
    Medical Diagnostic Laboratory] at College Station, ranchers can be
    reluctant at best, and especially so when the deaths can be confused
    with anthrax. Patently TVMDL has yet to confirm that BT/EHD is or is
    not to blame. One of the added confusions is the perception of a
    difference in susceptibility of white-tailed deer subspecies.

    To quote my friend and colleague Ken Waldrup,

    "[Regarding the] northern genetic stock (i.e. _Odocoileus virginianus
    borealis_ rather than the native Texas white-tail, _Odocoileus
    virginianus texanus_). The northern borealis subspecies is well known
    to be more susceptible to bluetongue/EHD than is the native Texas
    white-tail, and many private white-tail breeders have used other
    subspecies to hybridize their herd. East Texas has a different
    subspecies (behind the Pine Curtain) and BT/EHD die-offs do occur
    periodically there. I also would not propose that there is total herd
    immunity anywhere. The evidence is that bluetongue/EHD is highly
    endemic in many parts of Texas (sero-prevalences approaching 98
    percent in animals greater than one year of age). Theoretically fawns
    would be exposed in their initial August/September, and they would
    either live or die (the vast majority apparently live). Those that
    die are removed from the gene pool. Those that survive have the
    possibility of passing along their survival to succeeding
    generations. I have seen fawns from Uvalde with subclinical
    bluetongue infections that succumbed to acute pasteurellosis after
    transport in August/September: classic viral immune suppression that
    allowed an opportunistic bacterial pathogen to invade. BT was
    isolated, but the cause of death was acute fibrinous pneumonia."

    West and South Texas have been suffering from a severe drought and
    hot weather, only recently relieved by some rain. The drought would
    have interrupted the normal transmission of the orbivirus and
    together may have resulted in a significant number of deer being
    susceptible when virus circulation resumed. At this time I am
    presuming that it is EHD because EHD cycles before BT -- first
    reports were in August -- and as yet there are no reports of problems
    in Texas sheep. - Mod.MHJ]
  2. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    Not meaning to bump something you've already read, but I imagine this might also be an issue if you bring home contaminated meat and it turns out to be bluetongue, in which case your stock might be exposed if you didn't clean up your boots or truck or what-not.