As part of a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) survival study in Missouri (USA) we were actively monitoring 97 radio-collared deer when 8 (8%) died. This mortality, which occurred from 20 August to 23 September 1996, consisted of five adult females, two yearling females and one yearling male. Based on the seasonality of this mortality and the isolation of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) serotype 2 from one of these animals, we believe that these losses resulted from an epizootic of hemorrhagic disease. The remains of five unmarked deer that may have died from HD also were found on the study area during this same period. During the fall following this mortality, we tested serum from 96 deer taken by hunters in the immediate area. Fifteen (16%) were positive for EHDV or bluetongue virus (BTV) antibodies as determined by agar gel immunodiffusion tests. Serum neutralization test results indicated that previous infections were caused by EHDV virus serotype 2. Based on these data, and assuming that there was no prior exposure to EHDV serotype 2 in this population, the exposure rate for this epizootic was 24% of which 8% died. We noted hoof interruptions in only two of the 96 deer sampled. During this mortality event, the Missouri Department of Conservation received no reports of dead deer, and without the radio-monitored animals the event would have been undetected.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3