RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — An outbreak of hemorrhagic disease has struck North Carolina, and it has spread across multiple counties in the state’s Piedmont, foothills and Coastal Plain, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
“Hemorrhagic disease is a common disease in southeastern deer populations that causes sporadic outbreaks every few years, typically resulting in dead deer found near water in late summer,” said N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission deer biologist Moriah Boggess. “The term hemorrhagic disease is collectively used for both Bluetongue and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease viruses, both of which cause similar symptoms in deer.”
Hemorrhagic disease is not transmissible to people through eating venison or through the biting midge that usually spreads the disease to deer.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is asking anyone who sees any “dead or obviously sick deer” to contact their local district wildlife biologist.
Wildlife officials say deer with hemorrhagic disease — both Bluetongue and Epizootic varieties — have been found in 39 counties in North Carolina. Most of those cases have been in the mountains and Piedmont.
Officials are also testing for CWD but have not yet received results back. Two cases of Chronic Wasting Disease were detected in deer in Yadkin County earlier this year, but wildlife officials say this is something different. CWD is more severe.
“An important difference between the two diseases is that deer, especially in the South, are adapted to hemorrhagic disease because it’s been here as long as we have deer records, but CWD is a relatively new deer disease,” said Boggess. “Even in the worst hemorrhagic disease outbreaks some deer survive and pass on their immunity to offspring; CWD on the other hand is incurable and deer that contract the disease cannot survive it. While it may seem like hemorrhagic disease kills more deer in the short term, the future implications of CWD are much grimmer, because CWD permanently affects population viability and infection rates steadily climb each year.”
The hemorrhagic disease outbreak is likely to continue until the first frost of fall, weather that is not conducive for biting midges.
While the state does not yet know if this outbreak will impact the deer population in any kind of significant way, officials say that even in severe cases populations usually rebound within a few years.
These are the contacts for the local district wildlife biologist in the FOX8 viewing area:
Alamance, Caswell, Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham counties
Jason Allen, District 5
Office: (336) 514-0306
Cell: (336) 514-0306
Davidson and Montgomery counties
Office: (910) 571-9747
Cell: (910) 975-0577
Alleghany, Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties
Office: (704) 546-5130
Cell: (336) 830-9794