Deer deaths in Alamosa linked to bluetongue virus

ALAMOSA, Colo. – A hemorrhagic disease has been discovered in at least two dead mule deer in Alamosa.

Bluetongue virus was confirmed in the deer, and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) has also been found in dead Colorado wildlife this fall. These are fatal viruses for white-tailed deer but can also be found in mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and bison. It has been a particularly bad year for hemorrhagic diseases in the western United States.

Bluetongue and EHD viruses are not transmissible to humans, though Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends hunters avoid shooting and consuming animals that are obviously sick. Do not handle animals found dead, and report dead animals to CPW.

The diseases are transmitted by biting flies or midges. A deer must be bitten by a midge carrying the virus to become infected. Cases of bluetongue and EHDV are most common from August to October. After the first frost of the year, new cases will begin to cease as the midges die off.

Infected deer usually die quickly within one or two days. Early signs of a hemorrhagic disease include animals that appear disoriented, lethargic and unresponsive to the presence of humans and other animals. Once the disease advances, deer may salivate and foam at the mouth, bleed from the nose and have a swollen tongue with a blue tinge as well as other sores or lesions.

Domestic livestock are rarely affected by EHDV, though sheep can be susceptible to bluetongue.

To report a sick deer to CPW in the San Luis Valley, call the Monte Vista service center at 719-587-6900.

What To Look For

Multiple dead deer, especially near water
Dead animals during the fall season
Edema (fluid) under the skin or inside the chest or belly of harvested animals