ROANOKE, Va. (AP/WRIC) — Officials are reporting larger than normal numbers of deer fatalities in southwest Virginia caused by a common infectious disease that afflicts the animals.
The Roanoke Times reports that over 150 deer have been reported killed by hemorrhagic disease, with a large concentration in the state’s southwest counties.
Typically, the disease affects more deer in central Virginia’s Piedmont region.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries told affiliate station WSET that the disease is not that new to the state, but is rare in the area where it’s currently happening.
“Hemorrhagic disease is a common infectious disease of white-tailed deer, and outbreaks occur annually in the Southeast, although historically it has been rare in the western part of Virginia,” a DGIF spokesperson said. “Outbreaks are characterized by otherwise healthy looking deer being found dead or dying near or in the water during late summer and early fall.”
The current outbreak is part of a larger outbreak affecting much of the Appalachian Mountains, including Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Fortunately, the disease doesn’t pose a threat to humans or domestic pets. It can be spread by direct contact with infected animals or by deer being bitten by infected flies.
The season’s first freeze is expected to kill the insects that spread the disease.