The swollen snouts of afflicted deer result from chronic (long-term) inflammation of the tissues of the nose, mouth and upper lip. All of the cases involved similar colonies of bacteria in the inflamed tissues, but isolating the guilty bacteria has been difficult due to poor sample condition and contamination from many other non-guilty bacteria.
All of the cases of Bullwinkle deer submitted by state wildlife agencies have been since 2005. No cases appear in 50 years of SCWDS files prior to that year. While the Bullwinkle infection is no doubt uncomfortable for the victim, it doesn’t appear to be lethal. All of the samples have been submitted from deer killed by hunters.