Bluetongue Disease in Deer / BTV

Bluetongue in Deer :

(BTV, Hemorrhagic disease)

     Bluetongue in Deer is another type of orbivirus transmitted by the biting midge. The clinical signs of BTV are clinically indistinguishable from EHD. Because of this, it is very important to accurately diagnose the cause of disease and death in your deer. There are 24 known serotypes of BTV known worldwide, but only a few types known to be in the US:


  • 1

  • 3

  • 10

  • 12

  • 17

Like EHD, immunity to one type of Bluetoungue in deer does not provide protection for the other types. Therefore, it is important to diagnose which type of Bluetongue is infecting your deer so that they can be vaccinated appropriately.


-What is Bluetongue Disease?

Bluetongue is caused by a virus of the family Orbivirus. This virus causes leaky blood vessels and hemorrhagic disease that usually leads to death.

-What are early warning signs of Bluetongue Disease?

The early signs are usually short-lived and include mild depression, decreased appetite, mild facial or tongue swelling.

-Symptoms of Bluetongue:

1. Acute death

2. Nervous system malfunction (seem lost, seizures, keep head turned, flip over backwards

3. Swollen face or tongue with tongue hanging out

4. Oral ulcers

-Is Bluetongue contagious?

From what we know today, Bluetongue is spread by gnats called midges. Theoretically a midge can transfer it directly from one deer to another, but the virus usually has to undergo changes in the gut of the midge before it can be spread to another deer.

-Risk factors of this disease:

1. Midges

2. Wet areas on the property that could support midge reproduction.

3. Cattle nearby that are harboring the virus.

-How serious is Bluetongue?

Very serious. Usually results in death.

-Can it impact my herd, or just affect one animal?

I’ve seen it affect as few as 1 deer or as many as 70% of the herd.

-How do I protect my deer against Bluetongue?

The most important thing is to reduce the exposure risk. This is best done by reducing the number of midges that come into contact with the deer. There are several pesticides and methods of applying the pesticide to try to reduce the midge population. As your veterinarian, we can meet and decide what is best for your individual situation. It is also important to find out which type of Bluetongue is affecting your deer. There are 24 known types and each one is unique. A vaccine can be made that targets the specific virus on your farm.


office: (337) 893-8522

Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier are always here when needed. We will get back to you right away.

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