I have been interested in what may have caused significant numbers of unexplained Roe deer deaths in Denmark, and some Pere David's deer in the Netherlands. After speaking to a couple of friends in the VLA (Veterinary Labotratories Agency), it seems that Q Fever (caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnettii) could be a factor. I believe that it's a notifiable disease in the UK, and that it has resulted in the slaughter of over 35,000 goats in the Netherlands.
I have another associate in the Netherlands who has been kind enough to supply me with the following data from the Dutch Veterinary Record and their hunting magazine.
Several scientific reports from South, and East Europe mention Coxiella Burnetii in roe deer, red deer and fallow deer (and wild boar). (percentage seropositive animals up to 30 %!).
Therefore they’ve done a pilotstudy last huntingseason (beginning 2010). They’ve checked 8 female roedeer, shot in the heart of the Dutch Q-fever area, with PCR (of better value then only ab-tests).
All 8 were negative! They will do an extended study next year but at the moment they are also performing a retrospective study of material they had “in stock" from previous studies.
It is felt that ticks might play a role as well.
I think it is worth all stalkers finding out more about the disease, as if deer are susceptible to it, then it should be taught in all future DSCL1 courses, and in particular the meat hygiene and large game carcass inspection courses.
I will be posting a free PDF information file about Q Fever which can be downloaded from our website www.jelendeer.com in the next few days. I will also contact my colleague in the VLA for more information as it becomes available, and will post it on this site, as well as other forums and our own website.
In the meantime I urge all stalkers to find out what they can about the disease, how its transmitted, and the implications regarding UK wild, park and farmed deer (as well as commercial goat farms).
(Jelen Deer Services)