A retrospective study of mortality in Pennsylvania captive white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus): 2000-2003

Arthur L. Hattel, Daniel P. Shaw, Brenda C. Love, Donald C. Wagner, Thomas R. Drake, Jason W. Brooks

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33 Scopus citations


The postmortem records of 160 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) submitted for necropsy examination from 59 separate Pennsylvania captive deer farms over a 3.5-year period were reviewed to determine the primary cause of death of each animal. The most common causes of death were bronchopneumonia (39 cases), enterocolitis (30 cases), malnutrition (13 cases), and trauma (11 cases). Other causes of mortality included severe gastrointestinal parasitism (6 cases), cellulitis with septicemia (5 cases), degenerative myopathy (4 cases), ruminai acidosis (4 cases), and nephritis (4 cases). The cause of death was undetermined in 13 of the 160 animals. Arcanobacterium pyogenes (19 cases), Fusobacterium necrophorum (10 cases), Escherichia coli (7 cases), and Mannheimia haemolytica (4 cases) were the most commonly isolated bacteria from the pneumonic lungs. Bacterial agents associated with enterocolitis included Clostridium perfringens (15 cases), E. coli (12 cases), and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (2 cases). The majority (52.2%) of the death loss in white-tailed deer of known ages occurred in animals 1 year of age or less, with 46.2% of the bronchopneumonia cases and 50.0% of the enterocolitis cases occurring during this time period. Cases of degenerative myopathy, myocardial degeneration, hepatic necrosis, meningoencephalitis, peritonitis, and urolithiasis considered severe enough to be the primary cause of death appeared early in life, affecting deer 6 months of age or less in all cases. In conclusion, bronchopneumonia, enterocolitis, malnutrition, and trauma were considered the most common causes of death in confined white-tailed deer in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Veterinary


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