Hemorrhagic Disease


Commonly Infected Wildlife

In Missouri, deer and elk may be infected.

Is This Animal Infected?

Single or multiple dead deer may be found in late summer or early fall near water sources with no apparent disease symptoms.

Clinical signs in deer are variable but may include unwillingness to move, difficulty breathing, swelling of the head, neck, or tongue, lameness, and weight loss. Most deer die quickly from the disease and therefore have no obvious clinical signs.

HD is not directly contagious between infected animals.

Can I Get It?

No. Hemorrhagic disease is not known to infect people.

How bad can it get?

There is no known risk to humans.

Symptoms in humans

None. Humans are not at risk.

Deer in pond.
Deer victim of Hemorrhagic disease
Nate Mechlin

Protect Myself and Others

  • The viruses that cause HD do not infect people.
  • There is no risk from handling or eating meat from deer with HD.
  • HD may weaken the animal’s immune system, allowing secondary bacterial infections to develop in the sick animal and make the meat unsuitable for consumption.

Safe for Pets?

Yes. Meat is generally safe for pets to consume, if no secondary bacterial infections are present and meat is cooked properly.

What Causes It?

Biting midge flies in the genus Culicoides spread the viruses that cause the disease.

In North America, there are two viruses that cause HD: epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and bluetongue virus (BTV).

Different strains (subtypes) of these viruses exist, with varying levels of virulence.

Livestock, such as cattle and sheep, may be infected with the HD viruses. Clinical signs vary with the species. Consult your veterinarian for more information on HD in livestock.

Recent Hemorrhagic Disease Cases

January - October 15, 2023

Map showing counties in Missouri that have HD cases in 2023