Hemorrhagic Disease reported in Wilkes & Surry County deer

Hemmorhagic Disease

Wildlife biologists say deer population will rebound

Based off reports from the public concerning dead, sick or dying deer and creek miles surveyed by Wildlife Commission staff, a localized outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is affecting deer in northwest Surry and northeast Wilkes counties. However, agency biologist say the disease is cyclic. And they expect the population will rebound over the next several years.

EHD is one of two closely related viruses that cause hemorrhagic disease, a common disease of deer. The other virus produces blue tongue.

Agency biologists suspected the infected deer were suffering from HD due to time of year, location where the carcasses were found (near water) and symptoms exhibited by sick animals. Samples were collected from infected deer and sent to the SE Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Group. Results indicated the cause of death was Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) virus, variant 6. EHD is the most common cause of HD in North Carolina rather than blue tongue. 

Hemorrhagic Disease occurs almost every year in N.C.

Currently, for comparison in District 7 there have been 86 reports in NW Surry and 76 reports in NE Wilkes counties. Reports from all other surrounding counties are drastically lower ranging from 0-11 suspected EHD cases. The most recent notable outbreak of EHD in this area was in 2012.

HD tends to occur in North Carolina every year, although with varying degrees of severity and distribution. The disease typically dies off after the first frost. 

Hunters should not be concerned with eating venison from animals harvested in the area of HD outbreak because exposure to the virus does not pose a health risk to humans. As always, hunters should be cautious of consuming venison from any animal with obvious signs of illness.

Citizens should report dead or obviously sick looking deer to their local district biologist to help monitor the impact of the disease.

For more information about HD and other diseases, visit the Wildlife Commission’s deer diseases webpage.

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