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25 July 2022 Distinctive Gross Presentation in Free-Ranging White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with Rabies
Alisia A. W. Weyna, Mark G. Ruder, Martha Frances Dalton, Charlie Bahnson, M. Kevin Keel, Heather Fenton, Jennifer R. Ballard, Nicole M. Nemeth
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Abstract

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a popular game species in North America and often lives in close proximity to humans and domestic animals. Deer with neurologic signs are of high interest to the general public and wildlife managers because of disease and safety concerns. Our aim was to describe diagnostic findings from free-ranging white-tailed deer diagnosed with rabies from across the eastern US from 2000 to 2021, with emphasis on gross lesions in the skin and soft tissue overlying the skull. We reviewed diagnostic reports of white-tailed deer cases submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study for those diagnosed with rabies from 2000 to 2021. Rabies virus infection was confirmed by immunohistochemistry or fluorescent antibody test of brain, or both. Nine adult deer from five states were diagnosed with rabies, including seven (78%) females and two (22%) males. Three (33%) deer were found dead, and six (67%) were humanely dispatched for abnormal behavior. Six deer heads were examined grossly and had lesions, including forehead or periorbital alopecia, cutaneous erythema, abrasions and ulcers, and subcutaneous edema. Histologic examination was performed for eight of nine cases, all of which had intraneuronal eosinophilic inclusion (Negri) bodies in cerebrum, cerebellum, or both. Most (6/8; 75%) had perivascular lymphoplasmacytic encephalitis. Rabies should be considered a differential diagnosis in deer with this pattern of head lesions, suggestive of head rubbing or head pressing.

© Wildlife Disease Association 2022
Alisia A. W. Weyna, Mark G. Ruder, Martha Frances Dalton, Charlie Bahnson, M. Kevin Keel, Heather Fenton, Jennifer R. Ballard, and Nicole M. Nemeth "Distinctive Gross Presentation in Free-Ranging White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with Rabies," Journal of Wildlife Diseases 58(3), 664-669, (25 July 2022). https://doi.org/10.7589/JWD-D-21-00176
Received: 8 November 2021; Accepted: 10 January 2022; Published: 25 July 2022
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
gross pathology
neurologic
Odocoileus virginianus
rabies virus
white-tailed deer
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