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If you see a deer that appears ill, MDC wants you to report it

A white-tailed deer
Ted Huizinga
A white-tailed deer

This is the time of year when deer can fall ill from hemorrhagic disease.

The Missouri Conservation Department wants the public to be on the lookout for deer that might have hemorrhagic disease or HD and to report it if they see any.

HD is a general term for epizootic hemorrhagic disease and the bluetongue virus. It is not known to affect people, and handling and eating meat from infected deer carries no risk, according to the organization.

MDC has confirmed the illness recently in deer in Cole, Greene, Howell, Miller, St. Louis and Webster Counties. At least 305 suspected HD cases have been reported elsewhere in the state.

HD is a naturally-occurring virus that affects deer that have been bitten by a native midge or gnat, according to MDC Wildlife Health Program supervisor Deb Hudman in a press release. Outbreaks are most common in Missouri between July and October.

Symptoms of HD in deer include unwillingness to move; difficulty breathing; swelling of the head, neck, or tongue; lameness and weight loss. Most deer die quickly from the disease and therefore have no obvious clinical signs.

Deer that are sick with HD may appear dazed, lethargic and unresponsive, according to Hudman. They also can have a high fever, which will cause them to seek out water, and dead deer have been found in or near water sources.

She said not all deer die from HD, and those that survive it develop immunity. There is no cure or vaccine. The illness poses no health risks to humans.

MDC says the public can help by reporting suspected cases to a local MDC officeor conservation agent or email information to That can help biologists determine the impacts of the disease on deer.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.