White-tailed deer can carry and are susceptible to a number of diseases. Several of these diseases cause concern for human health as well as for other animal species both domestic and free ranging. Diseases with potential to impact deer populations and deer management in Michigan include Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Lyme disease, Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB), and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

    From Deer Diseases in Michigan, MSU, Department of Natural Resources

Bug-borne disease monitoring project finds deer ticks on the rise in Midwest, Medical Express, May 24, 2018A new environmental monitoring project at Indiana University has found increased numbers of the ticks that carry Lyme disease in Southern Indiana. The detection arises from a newly launched project from the IU Environmental Resilience Institute and the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge to understand and guard against disease-carrying organisms in the state. Project Vector Shield will regularly collect ticks and mosquitoes on the state’s southern, eastern and western borders and analyze them to see if they carry diseases that are dangerous to people.

The project’s launch comes at the same time as a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that the transmission of diseases from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas has tripled since 2004, including the detection or discovery of nine diseases never previously seen in the U.S.

Lyme Isn’t the Only Disease Ticks Are Spreading This Summer, WIRED, May 29, 2017Scientists like Armstrong estimate that Powassan is only prevalent in about 4 percent of deer ticks, way lower than the 30 to 40 percent prevalence of Lyme disease. But here’s the thing. Lyme disease, which is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium, takes about 48 hours to transmit; if you find a tick on your body and remove it within a day or two, you can usually escape a Lyme infection. POW, on the other hand, goes from the tick’s body, through its saliva, and into your bloodstream within a few minutes of a bite. So even though it’s not in many ticks, if the right one gets you, there’s not much you can do.

County reports on tick-borne illnesses, Shelter Island Reporter, May 10, 2016According to a newly released report by the Suffolk County Department of Health’s Tick and Vector-borne Diseases Task Force, between 2010 and 2014 the incidence of several tick-borne illnesses rose each year.
New tick species spreading in Michigan, ClickOnDetroit.com, May 10, 2016The Lone Star Tick, a relatively new tick, is a new addition to Michigan’s tick population. The tick spreads Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia and can cause tick paralysis. According to Rose Pest Solutions, the tick’s increased activity is likely due to the resurgence in the white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

Lone Star tick heading north, Sentinal Express, April 17, 2016Until recently, the species of tick known as the Lone Star has been most commonly found in southern states. But a growing population in Massachusetts, coupled with increasing rates of tick-related illness in recent years, has put local veterinarians and pet owners on alert.

The Lone Stars are comparatively more aggressive than other ticks, with much better eyesight, and are notable for their tendency to stay in large groups. Unlike other ticks, the bite of a Lone Star actually hurts. Sinnott even estimates that they are capable of moving three to four times faster than other tick species. The good news is that Lone Stars do not carry Lyme disease, but being bitten does have other side effects. Proteins found in their saliva are similar to those found in red meat and cat dander, meaning one bite can lead to a lifelong allergy to either.

Tickborne Diseases of the United States, CDC, May 27, 2016In the United States, some ticks carry pathogens that can cause human disease
How to Recognize 5 Common, Lethal Deer Diseases, Outdoorhub, Nov 4, 2014Like any other animal, deer are susceptible to a host of contagious diseases, illnesses, and nasty parasites. While only a small percentage of deer actually fall prey to these ailments, some of these diseases are very dangerous.

Illinois, Wisconsin differ in culling deer to control disease, Great Lakes Echo, Feb 26, 2014Marks compares how white-tailed deer get infected to how humans get the flu: “You do not want the flu to spread, so that is the same thing with CWD in white-tailed deer. Culling helps reduce density so it makes it harder for the disease to spread.” The disease rate increased in Wisconsin in the five years after it ended culling.

Biologist says deer’s health is matter of public safety, Dispatch, Dec 2, 2013Throughout the year, random roadkill deer are tested for chronic wasting disease, which is a degenerative brain disease. Years ago, when the disease was a threat out West, more than 1,500 deer heads were taken in a season and tested in Ohio. Now, that number is about 500 annually. In 11 years of testing, no case has been found in Ohio.

The deer are also monitored for black-legged ticks and for brucellosis, an infectious disease that can be transferred to livestock.

There’s a New Disease Spread by Ticks, and it’s Not Lyme, Time, July 19, 2013A new tick borne illness that is similar to Lyme disease, with symptoms including fever and muscle pain, are being reported among people in the U.S. for the first time this year.

The bacteria, called Borrelia miyamotoi is relatively new and is one of five newly identified diseases spread by deer ticks. The illness doesn’t have a name yet, and a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine recently described two patients who showed signs of Lyme disease but did not respond to the common antibiotic treatment with doxycycline.

Buck Fever, Deer Industry Linked to Disease, IndyStar, 2012?The interstate movement of deer through the wild herd undermines the multibillion-dollar efforts of state and federal wildlife and agriculture agencies to protect wild deer and livestock from disease. It poses a particular threat to the cattle industry, which is also subsidized by taxpayers.

EPIDEMIOLOGY OF SUBURBAN DEER, KARMEN M. HOLLIS, DISSERTATION, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011Additional recommendations for the public, public health agencies, and veterinarians include, 1) Proper hand washing for all people visiting forest preserves to decrease the risk of infection through ingestion of pathogens. 2) Public education about common for ms of zoonotic exposures in forest preserves and the common signs/symptoms of human infection. 3) Inform the public to reduce exposure to mosquitoes by remaining on forest preserve trails and direct or indirect use of chemical repellents. 4) Public education about the exposure to zoonoses from natural water resources like ponds, lakes and rivers. 5) Keep all pets on a leash to reduce possible exposure to zoonotic pathogens and vectors, including bringing vectors and parasites into the home. 6) Deer meat provided by the county to food depositories should be frozen in small packages (~2.2-4.6 kg) immediately after processing and cooked thoroughly before serving. 7) Clear brush and debris along trails to reduce habitat available for mosquito vectors. 8) Implement surveillance programs for human and pet zoonoses. Overlapping this information with deer surveillance will facilitate better decision making.

Common Deer Diseases/Viruses and Their Management Implications, May-June 2010These are just a few of the more common deer diseases found in the Southeast that managers and hunters should be familiar with. Images

Preparing for the Next Disease, Jerry J. Vaske et al, Wildlife and Society, 2009
Continue reading more on diseases that affect deer, other bovines and humans:
Lyme Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease
Powassan Virus
Bovine Tuberculosis
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease
Deer Botflies
Toxoplasma gondii
Capture Myopathy
Cattle Fever
Malignant Catarrhal Fever

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