Missouri residents are reporting zombie deer roaming the woods. Uh, what?
Emaciated, lethargic, sick, swollen-necked deer are turning up in Missouri.
Apocalypse? Time to hop into the underground shelter and hole up? Maybe not quite.
Reports are coming in of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), or blue tongue. It is a virus spread by biting midges that has been afflicting deer in late summer/fall for decades throughout the nation.
The disease can affect deer in a number of different manners and can be deadly. Sometimes deer succumb quickly to the virus, dying while in good shape. Other times, deer can battle for days or weeks, becoming thin and sickly (zombie deer!). They frequently get a fever and die next to or immersed in water, attempting to cool down.
They can also overcome the illness, with sloughing hooves remaining for a few months as the last bit of evidence of their fight.
EHD can wipe out large percentages of the deer population in localized areas, but numbers typically bounce back in a few years. It has never been shown to affect humans.
OK, put away your bug-out bags.