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Wildlife officials warn of hemorrhagic disease killing Northern California deer

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Posted at 11:29 AM, Aug 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 14:32:50-04

(KGTV) — State wildlife officials are warning people not to feed deer in Northern California to help control the outbreak of a fatal disease in the animals.

Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say they have confirmed outbreaks of "adenovirus hemorrhagic disease" in deer across several Northern California counties, including Napa, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Tehama and Yolo counties. The disease is typically fatal to deer and can be spread by animals in close contact with each other. The virus is not known to affect humans, pets, or domestic livestock.

Adenovirus hemorrhagic disease, or CdAdV-1, isn't new. In 1993-1994, an outbreak of the virus was reported in black-tailed deer and mule deer in 18 counties. Since that outbreak, the virus has been identified as the cause of sporadic and widespread hemorrhagic disease in deer in California and other western states.

The disease causes excessive salivation (drooling or foaming at the mouth), diarrhea, regurgitation, or seizures in infected deer, however, those animals infected are often found dead with obvious symptoms, sometimes near water.

Deer fawns are at the greatest risk of the disease, according to CDFW.

Officials say feeding deer can cause the animal to gather and spread the virus to each other.

"Providing attractants for deer – food, salt licks or even water – is against the law for good reason," said 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."

People can help officials track and study the disease by reporting sightings of sick or dead deer.