With much of the disease-ridden news surrounding whitetail populations across the country focused on hemorrhagic disease (HD) and chronic wasting disease (CWD), some “highly unusual” news has surfaced in North Carolina.
With warmer temperatures continuing in much of the east, cases of HD have been popping up in Tennesse, Kentucky and many other states as carcasses of dead deer are turning up around watering holes in many of the affected regions.
On the heels of this bad news and as we await the year’s first frost to kill off the mites that transmit the disease to deer, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently confirmed a rare case of another deadly disease in whitetails; rabies.
While the symptoms often can mirror both HD and CWD, one of the two affected deer that were tested, displayed what is known as alopecia, or hair loss on the head. This symptom alone is a dead ringer for rabies and is what ultimately prompted officials to test for the disease.
Commonly found in smaller mammals such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks and the like, it causes the brain to swell and affected animals display symptoms such as lethargy, loss of balance, aggressiveness and eye and nose discharge – very similar to the physical symptoms of both HD and CWD.
“We rarely test deer for rabies because we generally don’t have any reason to suspect they are infected,” wildlife commission veterinarian Maria Palamar said in a statement.
“However, it is important to know that all mammals, including pets and humans, can contract rabies and taking the proper precautions is essential.”
“People should not worry about contracting the disease,” Mahlum said. “As long as people follow these simple tips, they should be fine.”