Hemorrhagic disease is an illness of wild ruminants caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (HD) or blue tongue (BT) viruses. HD and BT viruses are common in the southeast with highly variable herd infections occurring annually. Infected deer may not show initial signs, though as the disease progresses they can exhibit: swollen tongue, neck, or head; lack of appetite; emaciation; tameness; excessive salivation; hoof sloughing; lameness; oral ulcers; internal hemorrhages and/or rumen papillae sloughing which can eventually lead to death. Decreased deer are commonly found near or in water sources. Some deer herds in Florida have innate resistance to HD and BT viruses. Transmission occurs through biting flies in the late summer or early fall. The diseases can be infectious to domestic ruminants, though most do not show signs of illness. As with any game suspected of being ill, it is not advisable to consume meat from sick deer. Please report any deer sick or dead of unknown causes in Florida to the CWD hotline at (866) 293-9282.
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