B.C. investigates outbreak of possible new disease after over 60 deer found dead in Gulf Islands

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“While there is no known human health risk from the virus and there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans, hunters in the area are being advised not to consume meat from animals found dead, obviously ill or acting abnormally prior to death.”

The province of British Columbia is tracking an outbreak of a possible new disease in deer that has killed over 60 animals on at least two different Gulf Islands.

“While there is no known human health risk from the virus and there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans, hunters in the area are being advised not to consume meat from animals found dead, obviously ill or acting abnormally prior to death,” said a press release from the province. Research indicates the illness does not pose a threat to pets and livestock, it added.

The deer are suspected to have died from Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD), but the province said further testing is needed to confirm the diagnosis. B.C. has never documented cases of the disease. 

AHD cases are recorded in the western U.S. annually with outbreaks in some locations since its initial discovery in California, according to the province. There are currently outbreaks underway in California and Oregon.

A network of wildlife professionals has assisted provincial wildlife health staff to investigate the possible emergence of AHD after deer were discovered dead on Galiano Island in Sept. Samples from the animals were sent to Canadian and U.S. laboratories to confirm the cause of the disease.

Acute signs of the disease include difficulty breathing, foaming or drooling from the mouth, diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and seizures. More chronic symptoms include ulcers and abscesses in the mouth and throat. 

The province asks anyone who observes deer displaying these signs to report it to the Wildlife Health Laboratory at (250) 751-7246.

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