Deer virus can cause foaming at the mouth

A virus may affect deer population around the Ashland area. Although only a handful of sick deer have been reported this year, the adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD) can spread quickly through large populations of deer.

As documented by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, AHD was first identified in California in 1994 and has since spread throughout central and southwest Oregon. Large outbreaks have occurred every couple of years, but the cause is still unknown.

“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on, what triggers it and why some years it has a big effect, and some years not so much,” said Sam Dodenhoff, assistant wildlife biologist of Rogue Watershed District.

Visible symptoms include rapid or open mouth breathing, foaming or drooling at the mouth and weakness. Death can occur within three to five days after the deer has been exposed. Strong adults may survive, according to ODFW.

“You’ll tend to see more infected deer in residential areas where they’re being fed and watered,” said Dodenhoff.

AHD is contracted through direct contact, bodily fluids and possibly airborne routes. It is important to not feed and water deer because that is one way the disease spreads. There have been no reports of humans or other animals contracting the disease from deer. The rate of how quickly AHD is spread determines on how many other deer the infected come into contact with, according to Dodenhoff.

“You really see more sick deer in larger populations,” said Dodenhoff.

The last outbreak in the Rogue Valley was in 2014. “Sometimes we’ll get quite a few calls,” said Dodenhoff. “So far this year, it’s been really slow.”

People should avoid contact with wildlife, especially if they appear ill. If for some reason it is necessary to move an infected or deceased animal, use gloves and stay clear of bodily fluids.

The wildlife department records the amount of sick deer in the area, to keep track of outbreaks, according to Dodenhoff. Report any signs of sick wildlife to the ODFW Rogue Watershed District office at 541-826-8774.

Contact Tidings intern Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@dailytidings.com.

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