Potentially fatal disease could pose risk to deer

out buckAn outbreak of a disease spread by biting gnats has turned up deer populations in several foothill counties.

N.C. Wildlife Commission biologists first began seeing deer afflicted with the disease this summer in Wilkes and Surry counties. In August, reports of the disease also began coming from Caldwell, Burke, McDowell, Rutherford and Buncombe counties.

The disease has no human health implications, but is one of the most significant endemic viral and sometimes fatal diseases of white-tailed deer in the southeastern U.S.

Spread by a biting midge (or gnat), the virus enters deer through the blood stream. Common symptoms include emaciation, loss of motor control, fever, lameness and swelling of the neck and head. Infected deer often seek relief near bodies of water, resulting in a higher frequency of dead deer near creeks, rivers and ponds than on adjacent uplands.

The Naturalist's Corner

  • Fingers still crossed
    Fingers still crossed Status of the Lake Junaluska eagles remains a mystery, but I still have my fingers crossed for a successful nesting venture. There was some disturbance near the nest a week or so ago — tree trimming on adjacent property — and for a day or…

Back Then with George Ellison

  • The woodcock — secretive, rotund and acrobatic
    The woodcock — secretive, rotund and acrobatic While walking stream banks or low-lying wetlands, you have perhaps had the memorable experience of flushing a woodcock — that secretive, rotund, popeyed, little bird with an exceedingly long down-pointing bill that explodes from underfoot and zigzags away on whistling wings and just barely managing…
Go to top