PARKERSBURG - Wildlife officials in West Virginia are treating cases of several dead deer in Calhoun County as an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease.
Jeff McCrady, wildlife biologist for the Division of Natural Resources, said the samples are being tested, but officials are treating it as an outbreak.
"I think it is probably positive, based on the outward appearance of the deer," McCrady said. "...We are proceeding as if it is."
The Hur Herald reported Tuesday officials from the DNR collected samples from dead deer near Arnoldsburg for the presence of hemorrhagic disease after several land owners reported dead deer on their property.
McCrady said the samples have been sent to the University of Georgia for testing, but officials do not know when they will receive results.
McCrady said the DNR office in Parkersburg has also received reports of the disease in Roane County and possibly Pleasants County.
Area deer last suffered a hemorrhagic disease outbreak in 2007.
"We probably have it every year somewhere in the state, it's not like it is a real rare thing," he said.
The disease, also known as Blue Tongue, is transmitted from one deer to another by gnats.
"People can't get it, but it can kill a fair number of deer," McCrady said.
McCrady said infected deer will hemorrhage internally, which causes them to dehydrate and they start heading to water. Officials will find more than one deer carcass near water.
"Usually multiple deer is an automatic trigger in our minds that it is hemorrhagic disease."
McCrady said officials take samples of lung and spleen tissue to send off for testing. He stressed officials need fresh samples for testing.
"Seeing a deer two days ago in this heat is too late. ... It is not easy to confirm."
The disease usually does not appear until a couple months after the deer are bitten, with most cases showing up in late summer or early fall. There is no treatment for the disease and the spread of the disease isn't halted until freezing weather emerges in the fall.
"Once the cool weather comes and the gnats die, it doesn't go any further," McCrady said.
Property owners concerned whether dead deer on their land have hemorrhagic disease or died from some other cause are encouraged to call McCrady at the W.Va. DNR in Parkersburg at 304-420-4550.