SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A deadly outbreak of disease among deer in Northern California has prompted state wildlife officials to urge residents to not feed deer or give them water.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said adenovirus hemorrhagic disease has been found in deer across several counties. The disease is typically fatal to young deer, particularly fawns, and can be spread by animals in close contact with each other.

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The CDFW said the disease can be spread by people providing food for wayward deer.

“Providing attractants for deer – food, salt licks or even water – is against the law for good reason,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, senior wildlife veterinarian with CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory in a press statement. “Because these artificial attractants can congregate animals and promote the spread of disease, it’s particularly imperative to leave wildlife alone during an outbreak. There is no cure or vaccine for this disease, so our best management strategies right now are to track it carefully, and to take preventative measures to limit the spread.”

The CDFW said it began receiving reports of mortality in deer at both free-ranging and fawn rehabilitation facilities in May. The department later confirmed the cervid adenovirus 1 (CdAdV-1) as being the cause of the hemorrhagic diseases the cause of hemorrhagic disease outbreaks Kern, Napa and Nevada counties.

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An outbreak of the virus in 1993 among black-tailed deer and mule deer was spread among at least 18 California counties. Sporadic outbreaks have been since then in the state and other western states. The CDFW said the outbreaks can be widespread and may have significant impact on affected deer populations.

Deer carrying the disease may appear dead without any obvious symptoms and may be found near water, the department said. Affected deer may have excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting or seizures.

Aside from removing any attractants, Californians were urged to help veterinarians track and study the disease by reporting any sightings of sick or dead deer to the CDFW’s online mortality reporting system.

 

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