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Bluetongue disease or Catarrhal Fever

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August 26, 2012


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Bluetongue disease or Catarrhal Fever

We have had several threads and posts discussing the subject of bluetongue disease in our deer population. Please click the links below to view.

Bluetongue disease discussion

Bluetongue disease trail cam thread

Wikipedia Bluetongue Disease


Bluetongue disease / virus

Bluetongue disease / virus particle

I wanted to also post some information in regards to the disease itself to better educate ourselves. Please post any information you may have on the disease to either the threads above or comment to this article which will also be viewable on the forums.

I found one article that discusses the White-tailed deer and the virus:

Bluetongue is an insect-borne, viral disease primarily of sheep, but it occasionally goats and even white-tailed deer. The disease is non-contagious and is only transmitted by insect vectors, especially during periods of drought. The disease is actually caused by a virus belonging to the family Reoviridae.

Species That Can Be Affected

As mentioned, this is primarily a disease of sheep but other species such as goats, cattle, buffalo, antelope and whitetail deer can be infected. Don’t worry, humans can not be infected.

Distribution of Blue Tongue

The virus is present in the United States, so any area can potentially harbor the virus. However, outbreaks typically occurs repeatedly in areas where it has occurred before and especially during dry conditions.

Picture by fishman34

Key Signs To Look For

Characters of disease include fever, widespread bleeding of the oral and nasal tissue, excessive salivation, and nasal discharge. In acute cases the lips and tongue will become swollen and this swelling may extend below the lower jaw.

Lameness, due to swelling of the cuticle above the hoofs and emaciation, due to reduced feed consumption because of painful inflamed mouths, may also be symptoms of this disease. The “blue tongue” that actually gives the disease its name occurs only in a small number of cases.

How Blue Tongue is Spread

The virus cannot be transmitted between susceptible white-tailed deer without the presence of insect carriers. The incidence and geographical distribution of bluetongue depends on seasonal conditions, the presence of insect vectors, and the availability of the density of deer. The insect carriers, biting midges, prefer warm, moist conditions and are in their greatest numbers and most active after it rains.

Life of the Blue Tongue Virus

Bluetongue virus does not survive outside the insect vectors or susceptible hosts. Deer carcases and products such as meat and hide are not a method of spread. Survival of the virus within a location is dependent on whether the vector can over winter in that area.

Controlling Blue Tongue

Within a wild population of deer, there is not much that can be done. With domestic animals, you can use a combination of quarantine and movement controls to prevent spread and reduce transmission and protect susceptible animals. As with just about every disease, less animals will become infected under lower densities.

Source – Buck Manager


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