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Hemorrhagic disease confirmed in white-tailed deer in Conn.

Hemorrhagic disease was recently confirmed in white-tailed deer in Connecticut for the third year since it was first documented in the state in 2017. The first positive case of 2022 came from a deer found in Goshen. A second positive deer was found on a property in Kent where an additional five deer have been found dead. The third positive case was from a property in East Haddam where an additional three deer have been found dead. 

Reports to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection of dead deer in multiple other towns, mainly in the northwest and southeast of the state, fit the description of animals affected by the disease. 

Hemorrhagic disease does not infect humans, and people are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer, or being bitten by infected midges.

There are several different forms of hemorrhagic disease, but it usually kills the animal within one to three days of infection. Symptoms in deer include swollen head, neck, tongue, or eyelids with a bloody discharge from the nasal cavity.  The virus creates high fevers, leading infected deer to be found near water sources. Not all symptoms are present in every infected deer. 

Hemorrhagic disease is transmitted by biting midges, commonly referred to as sand gnats, sand flies, or no-see-ums. There has not been a significant negative impact on the long-term health of deer herds in states where the disease has been detected because only localized pockets of animals tend to be infected within a geographic area. 

The disease rarely causes illness in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Hunters should observe normal precautions around any sick or strangely acting animals. 

The DEEP Wildlife Division is encouraging anyone who observes deer appearing emaciated, behaving strangely, or lying dead along the edge of waterbodies to report the information to the DEEP Wildlife Division at Andrew.labonte@ct.gov or by calling 860-418-5921. 

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