DEEP Reports Die-off in Local White-tailed Deer Herd
Hemorrhagic Disease Confirmed in 3 Connecticut Deer
(HARTFORD, CT) –The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced that hemorrhagic disease was recently confirmed in white-tailed deer for the third year since it was first documented in our state in 2017. The first positive case of 2022 came from a deer found in Goshen. A second positive deer was found on a property in Kent where an additional five deer have been found dead. The third positive case was from a property in East Haddam where an additional three deer have been found dead. Reports to DEEP of dead deer in multiple other towns, mainly in the northwest and southeast of the state, fit the description of animals affected by the disease.
There are several different forms of hemorrhagic disease, but it usually kills the animal within one to three days of infection. Symptoms of hemorrhagic disease in deer include swollen head, neck, tongue, or eyelids with a bloody discharge from the nasal cavity; erosion of the upper dental pad or ulcers on the tongue; and hemorrhaging of the heart and lungs, causing respiratory distress. Additionally, the virus creates high fevers, leading infected deer to be found near water sources. Not all symptoms are present in every infected deer.
Hemorrhagic disease is transmitted by biting midges (commonly referred to as sand gnats, sand flies, or no-see-ums). In addition to white-tailed deer, other species, such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and elk, have been documented with the disease in other states.
There has not been a significant negative impact on the long-term health of deer herds in states where the disease has been detected because only localized pockets of animals tend to be infected within a geographic area.
Outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease tend to occur during years, like 2022, in which drought conditions are prevalent, and occur in late summer and early fall due to an increase in midge numbers. Hemorrhagic disease outbreaks cease with the onset of a hard frost, which kills the midges carrying the virus. Outbreaks can range from a few mild cases to high deer mortality.
Hemorrhagic disease does not infect humans, and people are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer, or being bitten by infected midges. The disease rarely causes illness in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Hunters should observe normal precautions around any sick or strangely acting animals.
The DEEP Wildlife Division is encouraging anyone who observes deer appearing emaciated, behaving strangely, or lying dead along the edge of waterbodies to report the information to the DEEP Wildlife Division at Andrew.email@example.com or by calling 860-418-5921. (Please do not report road-killed deer to this email or phone number. They should be reported to local or state police).