Alabama wildlife officials are on alert for reports of sick deer following reports of an increased rate of illness in neighboring Mississippi.

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Potential Hemorrhagic Disease Outbreak 

Workers at the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries are keeping a close watch on a possible hemorrhagic disease outbreak among northern Alabama deer. In recent weeks reports of people discovering skinny deer have been heard, as well as seeing proof of it on game cameras, officials said.

Hemorrhagic disease is brought about by a virus and it can spread through small biting insects, WHNT-TV reported. Chris cook, Alabama Deer Program Coordinator said the virus leads to internal hemorrhaging and disturbs the ability of the deer to eat and digest its meal.

What wildlife officials are more worried about is deer's Chronic Wasting Disease and it can affect humans if meat from an infected deer is eaten, Cook said.

Wildlife Health Lab hemorrhagic disease of Cornell University is used in reference to two distinct, similar viruses which are Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease virus and bluetongue virus.

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Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease 

Cornell reported that EHD can lead to large death rates among white-tailed deer. The disease usually affects white-tailed deer, but mule deer and other types of antelope are also susceptible. Most of the time BT affects sheep and cattle, but domesticated dogs can also be can infect.

As per Cornell, infection of EHD can lead to a quick and painful death, usually within 8 to 36 hours. EHD and BT aren't human diseases. Weakness, loss of fear of humans, and swelling of the head and some other parts of the body are the signs of deer infection.

The USDA reported that hemorrhagic disease can be seen in wild and domestic rabbits as well.

EHD is a viral disease and for a long time now, this disease has been recognized as possibly the most crucial infectious disease of white-tailed deer in the US.

In some years, there are notable numbers of death among deer populations as a result of EHD. Antelope, mule deer, and other deer species are also at risk of becoming affected. Cattle can uncommonly get affected.

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EHD Mode of Transmission

EHD - a virus - is solely spread by biting flies belonging to the Culicoides family. These are  usually called sand gnats, biting midges, sand flies, or no-see-ums. The virus can't be contacted directly; it needs to be contacted when the animal is bitten by one of these flies.

When the fly bites an animal that is already infected, whether deer or cattle, the virus has the ability to reproduce inside the fly. Then, the fly can spread even much virus particles than it initially picked up.

Deer are indigenous to all continents excluding Antarctica and Australia, and a lot of species have been widely introduced farther than their main habitats as game animals. 

The reindeer also referred to as the caribou is one species that has been domesticated.

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