Hemorrhagic disease has reared its ugly head in at least 5 states this summer
As of early September, I can report outbreaks of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and Bluetongue in whitetail herds in five states. This nasty virus, which occurs annually in late summer in random hot zones across America, is transmitted to deer by biting midges. Symptoms of deer infected with hemorrhagic disease include loss of appetite, weakness and disorientation, and loss of fear of humans.
“Because (EHD is) relatively new here in Ohio, most of our (infected) deer are going to succumb to the virus…oftentimes in very large numbers,” said Mike Tonkovich, Deer Program Administrator for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Deer sick or dead from EHD have been confirmed in Franklin, Hamilton, Perry, Athens, Ross, Warren, Butler, Green, Preble, Highland, Union, and Champagne counties.
“We probably have weeks to deal with this yet,” said Tonkovich, referring to the fact that an outbreak of EHD can continue to infect deer until the first fall frost kills the midges that spread the disease. “It’s too early to tell, but the spread of EHD might impact hunting season.”
Wildlife officials in North Carolina confirm that deer with hemorrhagic disease — both the EHD and Bluetongue varieties — have been found in 39 counties across the state. While some reports of infected deer have come from the Coastal Plain, most sick and dying deer have been found in the mountains and Piedmont region. Officials continue to monitor the situation and say it is unclear if the outbreak will impact deer herds in any significant way.
On Facebook, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) reports receiving several reliable reports of EHD deer mortalities across the state. Most of these reports are from several locations in the Piedmont region. At this point the outbreak does not appear significant.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has confirmed that a whitetail in the town of Dover Plains (Dutchess County) died recently after contracting EHD. The DEC is currently investigating reports of several other dead deer from the area.
Multiple deer in Franklin County have tested positive for EHD according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The DNR has also received several reports of suspected EHD from counties in the southern part of the state. The agency said it does not expect the outbreak to affect hunting season.
Be Vigilant and Report EHD
As you roam the woods in any state these next few weeks, be on the lookout for any sick or dead deer that might have been infected with EHD. You might find a dead animal around water, or smell a rotting carcass first. Report any dead or sick animals to a conservation officer or regional biologist, who will determine if samples should be taken and tested for EHD. Provide the county, the community or area, and the number of deer involved.
More about EHD: While EHD is often fatal to deer (most animals die within 36 hours after clinical symptoms appear), some animals survive it and develop an immunity to the disease. Infected deer often seek out water sources; many animals die near a creek or pond.
The first hard frost of late September or October, depending on region, kills the midges that bite and infect the deer, effectively ending the threat for the year.
While EHD is not considered a threat to humans, authorities say you should never approach or handle any deer you suspect might be infected with or have died from the disease.
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