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Viral Outbreak Killing Deer.

Jenn Smith

Posted on October 04 2019

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says a number of deer have died due to a viral disease called hemorrhagic disease.

According to a release, DGIF says it has gotten 87 reports from 38 counties involving 180 deer, with the worst-hit area being in and around Bedford and Franklin counties, so far this year.

The state agency says this viral disease is a common one that affects white-tailed deer and outbreaks tend to occur every year in the Southeast.

Hemorrhagic disease is common east of the Blue Ridge and relatively uncommon west of it.

The release adds outbreaks of the disease are characterized by otherwise healthy-looking deer being found dear or dying near or in the water during the late summer and early fall months.

There is no vaccine or medication to fight the disease, and DGIF says the best predictor of there being an outbreak is drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports most of the Commonwealth is currently in abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.

DGIF says hemorrhagic disease, which is transmitted by biting flies or biting gnats, does not pose a threat to people or domestic pets like cats or dogs.

There is also no risk to hunters who handle or eat venison from an infected deer.

DGIF says these kinds of outbreaks typically will continue until the first frost kills the insects that carry the disease.

While not all deer that become ill will die, animals that do survive may develop hoof lesions or pain and are more susceptible to pneumonia.

Some decrease in deer populations in affected areas may be expected, and officials say meat from animals that act or look obviously sick, either from hemorrhagic disease or another infection, should not be eaten.

DGIF does maintain annual records of mortality reports from this disease that include information on the location and approximate number of animals involved, but unless there are extenuating circumstances, a report will not result in an on-site visit from staff.

However, the department will continue to monitor the situation across Virginia.

Anyone who sees a sick or dead deer and suspects hemorrhagic disease could be the cause should not contact, disturb, kill or remove the animals but should report its approximate location to the nearest DGIF office. For this area, the nearest office is in Farmville and can be reached by calling (434) 392-9645.

Story re-posted from CBS 19.