Confirmed cases of adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD) in deer across northern California has officials working to contain the spread. Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) asked residents to stop feeding wild animals and report any potential cases so that the agency can monitor exactly where AHD is within the state.
“Providing attractants for deer – food, salt licks or even water – is against the law for good reason,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, senior wildlife veterinarian with CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. “Because these artificial attractants can congregate animals and promote the spread of disease, it’s particularly imperative to leave wildlife alone during an outbreak. There is no cure or vaccine for this disease, so our best management strategies right now are to track it carefully, and to take preventative measures to limit the spread.”
The first cases were reported in May. Since then, there has an increase in “reports of mortality in deer” – both wild and those within the fawn rehabilitation facilities. Based upon these reports, biologists determined that cervid adenovirus 1 (CdAdV-1) is the cause of the outbreaks in Kern, Napa and Nevada counties. According to CDFW, the disease is usually fatal in young deer, particularly fawns, and can easily be spread to animals in close proximity.
Officials say that the disease does not affect people, pets or domestic livestock.
Typically, outbreaks are “sporadic,” widespread and can “have significant impact on affected deer populations.” This issue is that infected deer don’t have any obvious symptoms. Some are found near water; others may drool or foam at the mouth, experience diarrhea, regurgitation or seizures, according to the agency. In 1993 and 1994, a massive outbreak of hemorrhagic disease impacted blacktail deer and mule deer in 18 counties, which is why CDFW is requesting public help in determining how widespread this disease already is.
For more information on how to report a sick or dead deer, click here.