Deer Disease Information
Bovine TB Surveillance
Indiana DNR and the Board of Animal Health (BOAH) are monitoring Indiana’s deer herd for bovine tuberculosis after detecting the disease at a captive cervid facility in Franklin County, cattle farms in Dearborn and Franklin counties, and a wild white-tailed deer on an infected cattle farm in Franklin County.
In 2016, Indiana DNR tested 2,047 deer and all were negative for bovine TB.
Given the results, the apparent prevalence rate of bovine tuberculosis in this area’s wild deer population was less than a quarter percent in 2016. Continued support from hunters in Fayette and Franklin counties submitting deer for testing will improve confidence in determining the prevalence of bovine TB. For more information about bovine TB testing during the hunting season, visit wildlife.IN.gov/9320.htm.
You can assist the effort to protect Indiana’s domestic and wild animal populations from bovine tuberculosis by inspecting your harvested deer. The following procedures provide guidance in the event you harvest a deer that you suspect might be diseased.
Inspect Your Deer
- While field dressing a deer, look for white, tan or red blister-like lesions on internal organs or inside of the carcass. Lesions may be found on the lungs, inside the rib cage, the liver, the lymph nodes or occasionally other organs inside the carcass.
- In the unlikely event you find lesions, discontinue processing until the carcass has been examined by a State BOAH veterinarian. Refrigerate (or ice down) the carcass if possible.
- Keep the animal, including the head, intact until examined.
To contact a BOAH veterinarian, call (877) 747-3038 (toll free). This number is answered 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Messages left on weekends or holidays will be returned as soon as possible.
A BOAH veterinarian will advise, free-of-charge, about the appropriate use of the animal and may collect tissue samples for further testing. Reporting any suspicious lesion helps protect the health status of Indiana’s white-tailed deer resource.
If a veterinarian asks a hunter to submit a deer for further testing, the DNR will replace the hunter’s deer tag and revalidate an existing license.
After field dressing or handling any carcass or other raw meat, wash your hands with soap and water. Hand washing removes disease-causing bacteria, including bovine tuberculosis. Follow this practice even if the animal appears healthy.
For more information on Indiana’s deer bovine tuberculosis surveillance program, contact BOAH:
Toll-free phone: (877) 747-3038
Web page: IN.gov/boah
Mail: Board of Animal Health
Discovery Hall, Suite 100
1202 East 38th St
Indianapolis, IN 46205-2898
Chronic Wasting Disease and Out-of-State Deer, Elk and Moose
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease found in deer, elk, and moose.
CWD has been confirmed in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. It is spreading geographically and becoming locally prevalent. It has not been confirmed in Indiana.
The disease is spread environmentally through saliva and feces, and recent research shows plants uptake the prions. It is not known if prions are transmissible through ingestion of plant parts.
CWD-affected deer experience loss of body condition and changes in behavior. Affected animals may stand with legs wide apart, hold head and ears low, have subtle head tremors, and may be found near water. Excessive drinking is common in terminal stages of the disease.
There is currently no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention does not recommend consuming meat from a CWD-positive animal.
Because CWD has been transmitted in experiments where healthy deer were exposed to skeletons of infected deer, BOAH strictly limits the movement of cervid carcass and body parts into Indiana to the following:
- Commercially processed meat, which may contain bone
- Carcasses or parts of carcasses if no portion of the head, spinal cord or small intestine are attached or otherwise included
- Carcasses or parts of carcasses that include the head, spinal cord or small intestine, if they are delivered within 72 hours after entry to one of the following:
- A meat processor inspected by BOAH for processing
- A commercial deer processor registered with the DNR for processing
- A taxidermist licensed by the DNR
- Antlers, including antlers attached to skull caps, if the skull cap is cleaned of all brain and muscle tissue
- Upper canine teeth, also known as “buglers,” “whistlers,” or “ivories”
- Finished taxidermist mounts
A person licensed as a disposal plant or collection service under state law (Indiana Code 15-2.1-16) may move carcasses and parts into the state if the carcasses and parts are moved directly to a licensed disposal plant.
For up-to-date information on CWD and the state’s prevention and monitoring program visit wildlife.IN.gov/8367.htm.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) has been present in the United States for more than 50 years and is caused by infection of viruses from the genus Orbivirus that are spread only by biting midges.
Deer that contract EHD do not always die. Many recover. Large-scale, regional deer population decreases due to EHD have not been observed.
The variability of the disease is affected by many factors, including the number of insect vectors, virus serotype, previous host immunity and host genetics, and deer population density.
The onset of freezing temperatures often brings an end to outbreaks. Infected deer develop a fever and often seek comfort in or around water. Other signs include blue tongue, ulcers on the tongue, or an eroded dental pad.
There is no cure for EHD.
If you suspect an outbreak, contact your local DNR wildlife biologist (wildlife.IN.gov/2716.htm).
Humans are not at risk for contracting EHD. They are at risk for contracting hemorrhagic diseases in general, such as Ebola.