Bluetongue Disease (Hemorrhagic disease) is a non-contagious, viral disease spread by biting insects such as biting midges, ticks, and sheep keds. This disease is most common in sheep. However, it does affect White-tailed Deer and can be devastating to a population.
Although bluetongue is not harmful to humans we at Wabash Valley Outdoors recommends that symptoms of Bluetongue be reported to your local conservation management before you handle, clean, field dress, or process your deer. The diagnosis needs to be confirmed by a professional to confirm that it is in fact Bluetongue and not some other disease that could potentially be harmful to humans.
Bluetongue causes many different symptoms in affected animals, including ulcers on the tongue, a blue tinted tongue and/or eyes, sores, painful hooves, lameness, fever, excessive salivation, and reproductive problems. Affected animals can have swelling of the tongue which can cause breathing difficulties. The disease apparently causes the affected animal to be overwhelmingly thirsty as most deer with the disease are commonly found dead near bodies of water or actually in the water.
Deer can survive depending on the time of the year they contract the disease however the majority of infected do not survive. If contracted in the later months of summer or fall the animal usually will not survive due to the added harshness of the winter months ahead.
Why is it important to report Bluetongue?
It is important to contact and work with local wildlife conservation management when you suspect any sort of disease. Although bluetongue doesn’t directly affect humans it is important to report it for the well being of your local deer population and to prevent a possible epidemic from spreading should the disease happen to be something other than Bluetongue disease.
In cases of a Bluetongue epidemic the implementation of insecticides may be used to combat the disease carrying insects. This is most commonly done when there are sheep or goat farms in the area or in state parks or conservation areas where deer populations are be more concentrated.
Article by: Wabash Valley Outdoors