Disease caused by bug bites suspected cause in Tennessee deer deaths

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee wildlife officials say they suspect a disease transmitted through bug bites is behind recent sightings of dead white-tailed deer.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency deer management program leader James Kelly tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the agency has received reports of about 300 dead deer this year. Most of the reports are from northern and eastern counties in the state.

According to the agency, the likely cause is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. A severe outbreak of the disease occurred in the state in 2007.

Kelly suspects the reports will subside after frost kills the biting midges and gnats that transmit the virus, which causes fever, respiratory distress and swelling of the neck or tongue.

Kelly says dead deer sightings should be reported to the agency so it can monitor the disease’s progress.

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