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The Agency for Nature and Forest (ANB) conducts disease surveillance in wild animals in Flanders. A dead roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) collected as part of this surveillance was submitted to WHG for necropsy.

(c) Unsplash

An animal, possibly pregnant, was found without external injuries along a hiking trail. During the carcass dissection, several subcutaneous bleedings were observed on the flanks, indicating a collision. It is not uncommon that in such cases of trauma, no external injuries are visible, but bleeding becomes apparent during dissection.

Another notable injury was the presence of large abscesses on both sides of the lungs. These purulent lesions, caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, occupied a significant portion of the lung tissue, indicating a severe pneumonia in the roe deer. Two large fetuses were found in the uterus.

Purulent pneumonia in a roe deer

Now what killed the roe deer?

It is likely that the pregnancy, along with the severe pneumonia, weakened the animal and contributed to the fatal collision. It is known that animals, even when seriously injured after being hit by car, can travel many kilometers before being found, often far from the site of the incident. Only through a necropsy can we ascertain the definitive cause of death in such cases. Additionally, even when traumatic lesions are evident, it is crucial to consider whether the animal was already compromised by predisposing factors such as disease, pregnancy, old age, and more.

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