PIEDMONT, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia wildlife officials are warning residents to keep a lookout for bodies bearing the signs of a disease spreading in deer and say no one should attempt to approach living animals carrying the virus.

According to a Facebook post from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VADWR), deer fatalities from Hemorrhagic Disease have been documented across the state. While VADWR said most reports came from the Piedmont region, the agency recommended reporting animal corpses with telltale signs of Hemorrhagic Disease:

  • Dead or nearly dead deer lying on cool, wet soil during late summer or early fall.
  • Deer bodies floating in bodies of water.

VADWR officials said the reason for strange behavior in infected deer is due to a high fever.

“Lying on cool and wet soil is Mother Nature’s way of treating a fever in deer,” VADWR officials said.

To keep tabs on the potential spread of Hemorrhagic Disease in deer populations, VADWR officials said Virginia residents should report suspected cases at vawildlifeconflict@usda.gov or call 855-571-9003.

The disease sees an annual resurgence, VADWR officials said, largely due to increased populations of biting insects that spread the disease in hotter weather.

“The disease poses no threat to humans or domestic pets such as dogs and cats,” The post said. “Hunters are not at risk from handling or eating venison from infected deer. Even so, deer that act or look obviously sick, either as a result of HD or another infectious disease, should not be consumed.”