More deer in Mississippi have become sick this year

Occurrences of an ailment known as, blue tongue, are higher in 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Occurrences of an ailment known as, blue tongue, are higher in 2021; over previous years. When people think of sick animals they typically don’t want to eat them, but if a deer has what is known as hemorrhagic disease or blue tongue then the consumer doesn’t have to worry.

“One big difference is that chronic wasting disease is 100% fatal whereas hemorrhagic disease or blue tongue diseases are only fatal in less than 1% of the time,” said Bronson Strickland; a specialist for wildlife extension at Mississippi State.

CWD starts with a misshapen protein that spreads through the body of a deer and causes holes in the brain. Bluetongue is a virus spread by biting flies, like gnats. In the Southeast, the blue tongue is fairly common.

“Our deer are confronted with the virus all the time they have immunity it’s even been documented that the doe a mother will pass along antibodies and immunity to their fawns,” said Strickland.

In 2021 there was a slight increase with deer in Mississippi coming down with the disease. Strickland said it migh

t mean there’s a new strain of the disease, but there are signs of hemorrhagic disease that hunters can identify.

“Hunters will see this you know it might be in November or December but they’ll notice that the hooves have a break in it the hoof may be completely missing or have this odd-looking break in it,” said Strickland

If a hunter wants to check and see if their deer has blue tongue or CWD;  there are 30 stations in Mississippi where you can take it to be tested.

“A deer that is identified to have the chronic wasting disease the CDC recommends do not consume the meat however for hemorrhagic disease or blue tongue there’s no link whatsoever to any type of human health issue,” said Strickland.

Strickland encourages hunters to be safe as the hunting season approaches and if they wonder that a deer may be sick to get it sampled.

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