Facebook once again was the target of a hoax, this time prompting calls to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP). The hoax made callers concerned about the outbreak of a disease in the deer herd, says a report from USA Today.

Facebook Hemorrhagic Disease Hoax Worries Deer Hunters

The origin of the fake story

The fake news story is believed to have originated from a website prank link that allows users to create prank news links that are then posted to Facebook, the report said. This story made use of a picture of three white-tailed deer with the headline “2015 Mississippi Deer season Cancelled” and a statement that says “Deer Season in Mississippi cancelled due to…”

An outbreak of a hemorrhagic disease has been cited as the reason for the cancellation in a separate fake post. When a user clicks on such Facebook posts, they are redirected to the prank link and notified, “You Got Owned!”

The Facebook post appears to be an obvious prank, but a few hunters took it seriously and tried to verify the news with the MDWFP. They contacted the department to confirm whether the hemorrhagic disease was actually the cause, the report said. Wildlife Bureau assistant director at MDWFP Chris McDonald said, “Friday and Monday we did receive a lot of calls on that Facebook post. We have received some phone calls about an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease.”

Facebook post a prank

McDonald stated that the news about the widespread outbreak of hemorrhagic disease is false and also said that this year the number of reported cases of the hemorrhagic disease, also known as blue tongue, is lower than normal. Explaining the disease, McDonald said insects that bite the deer are responsible for the spread of the hemorrhagic disease.

Such a disease is more common during summer and fall, but since there has not been a lot of water this summer and insects are dependent on the availability of water for maturing, there have been fewer instances this year. The disease causes internal bleeding in deer, and therefore, it has been called hemorrhagic. The affected deer gets a high fever, and so it tends to go to water. The deer population in Mississippi is more greatly impacted by the hemorrhagic disease than other diseases. Despite that, the immune system of the herd has adapted to increase survival rates.

There has been no comment from Facebook on the matter.