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Deer with hairy eyeballs discovered in Farragut

Deer with congenital condition causes hair growth over eyes
Deer with congenital condition causes hair growth over eyes(TWRA)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 11:37 AM EST
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FARRAGUT, Tenn. (WVLT) - A deer with a rare condition that causes hair to grow on the corneas was found in Farragut, according to the National Deer Associaton.

The deer was discovered through the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s sick deer hotline, which was created to monitor the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD has not yet been found in the East Tennessee region.

The deer tested negative for that disease, but was “circling, had visible bleeding, lacked awareness of the people around it, and had something on its eyes,” said wildlife biologist Sterling Daniels of TWRA.

The deer was found circling in a street in August 2020, so TWRA was called to relocate it. After running tests, experts found it was positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). Experts said EHD likely explains the deer’s behavior, but not the hair on its eyes.

Additional testing identified the eye condition as “corneal dermoids.”

Dr. Nicole Nemeth and research technician Michelle Willis wrote a formal report explaining the condition.

“Dermoids are a type of choristoma, which is defined as normal tissue in an abnormal location. Accordingly, dermoids are characterized by skinlike tissue occurring on the body in a location other than on the skin. Corneal dermoids, as in the case of this deer, often contain elements of normal skin, including hair follicles, sweat glands, collagen, and fat. The masses generally are benign (noninvasive) and are congenital, likely resulting from an embryonal developmental defect.”

The deer was a yearling when it was found and had likely been suffering from the eye condition since birth.

To read the National Deer Association’s full report on the strange discovery visit their website.

To report a sick deer and learn what signs could indicate CWD click here.

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