by Rose Bier - Tuesday, September 26, 2017
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission confirmed a rare case of rabies in a deceased whitetail deer in Cherokee County. Following multiple reports of dead deer near water sources, and dying deer having trouble standing, showing no fear of humans and lacking coordination, the Commission sent tissue of several of the affected animals for testing by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS).
With more than 90 percent of wildlife rabies cases found in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, most don’t suspect deer to carry the disease. “Deer can get rabies but we believe it’s very rare,” Jonathan Shawn, Wildlife Commission deer biologist, told the Times Free Press. “We’ve had seven positives over the past 20 years.”
While the symptoms of rabies are similar to both hemorrhagic disease (HD) and chronic wasting disease (CWD), the two deer tested for rabies displayed what is known as alopecia, or loss of hair on the head. “We rarely test deer for rabies because we generally don’t have any reason to suspect they are infected,” Wildlife Commission Veterinarian Dr. Maria Palamar said in a press release. “In this case, the hairless head led us to believe rabies could be the reason for the animal’s symptoms.”
Rabies can affect all mammals, causing swelling of the brain with symptoms that can include lethargy, loss of balance, aggressiveness and eye or nose discharge. HD symptoms can include fever, swelling in the head, neck, tongue or eyelids, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite and no fear of humans. CWD is a progressive neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose resulting in severe weight loss, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and ultimately death.With hunting season upon us, officials recommend the following precautions to prevent disease transmission:
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