Mississippi wildlife officials said Wednesday they’ve received an increasing number of reports of sick or deceased deer over the past few weeks.

Biologists with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks suspect the state may be amid an outbreak of Hemorrhagic Disease also known as blue-tongue. Dr. Bronson Strickland, a wildlife specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension, said hemorrhagic disease is caused by a virus and is transmitted from deer to deer by midges or gnats.

“The virus causes internal hemorrhaging and sometimes rapid death occurs,” he said. “The virus may cause ulcers which can disrupt digestion.”

Strickland said deer suffering from the virus also will get a fever and seek water to cool their body temperature. Deer that die from the virus often are found near water as a result, he said.