Since 2002, reports of deer with swollen muzzles from throughout the United States have resulted in significant interest by wildlife biologists and wildlife enthusiasts. The condition was identified in 25 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and 2 mule deer (O. hemionus). Microscopic lesions consisted of severe, granulomatous or pyogranulomatous inflammation of the muzzle, nasal planum, and upper lip, as well as similar but less severe inflammation of the hard palate. Lymphadenitis of regional lymph nodes was common and granulomatous pneumonia was present in one individual. Splendore-Hoeppli material was typical in the center of inflammatory foci. Other than the single instance of pneumonia, systemic disease was not evident. Various bacterial species were isolated in culture, most of which were not morphologically consistent with the colonies of small, gram-negative bacteria observed in the center of the granulomas. Amplification and sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene from tissues of affected deer resulted in the identification of Mannheimia granulomatis. Laser capture microdissection was used to confirm that the colonies in the inflammatory foci were M. granulomatis. The cases described here are reminiscent of a bovine disease in Brazil and Argentina, locally called lechiguana. Although the inflammation of lechiguana is mostly truncal, the microscopic lesions are very similar and are also attributed to M. granulomatis. It is unclear if this is an emerging infectious disease of deer, or if it is a sporadic, uncommon condition that has only recently been recognized.
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