Nelson County: Deer Hemorrhagic Disease Likely Source of Die-Offs


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    deer pic

    Richmond, VA — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has confirmed that the cause of death of a deer in Cumberland County was Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is a common viral infectious disease of white-tailed deer, and outbreaks occur annually in the Southeast. Since late July, VDGIF wildlife biologists and conservation police officers have investigated reports of suspected outbreaks from Allegheny, Shenandoah, Nelson, Essex, Bedford, Scott and Hanover Counties. Currently, other states across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic are experiencing HD outbreaks.

    HD typically occurs in late summer and early fall. The disease poses no threat to humans or domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Biting flies, commonly known as biting gnats, transmit the viral disease. Hemorrhagic Disease cannot be spread by direct contact between infected animals. Deer that contract the disease often die rapidly. The number of deer affected by the current outbreak is variable. While it is not possible to determine the number of deer affected by the current outbreaks, some decrease in deer numbers in the affected areas of the Commonwealth may be expected.

    Not all deer that contract the disease will die. Surviving deer may be emaciated or appear lame due to hoof damage. High fever due to the virus may cause deer hooves to crack, peel, or even slough off. As always, hunters should not consume deer that were obviously sick when killed.

    There is no vaccine or medication to combat this deer disease. HD outbreaks will continue to occur until frost slows down the insects that carry the virus. The best defense is to maintain healthy deer herds at a population size that is suitable for the habitat.

    The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
    is continuing to monitor the situation and will continue to provide technical assistance to affected landowners. Additional information about Hemorrhagic Disease can be found on the Department’s Web site:

    Members of the public who observe sick or dead deer in their area and suspect HD may be the cause, should report it to a wildlife biologist at one of the following Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regional offices: Charles City (804-829-6580); Forest (434-525-7522); Fredericksburg (540-899-4169); Marion (276-783-4860); or Verona (540-248-9360).

    It is the mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation; and to promote safety for persons and property in connection with these outdoor activities. For more information, visit the Department web site at


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