Fisheries and Wildlife
27 September 2012
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a common infectious disease of white-tailed deer in the Eastern United States. It is not transferable to humans. EHD is caused by a virus. Only rarely does it cause illness in other animals.
The virus is spread from animal to animal by biting midges that live in or near water and wet, muddy areas. These midges transmit the virus as they feed. EHD typically strikes in late summer or early fall.
An EHD outbreak is more likely if the weather has been unusually dry leading to Deer looking to find whatever water is available, which is where the virus carrying midges live. Deer in the early stages of EHD may appear disoriented, tired, or unresponsive to humans and other side effects. As the disease progresses the deer may drool, have bloody discharge from the nose, sores on the mouth, and swollen, blue tongues, as well as ulcers on the tongue. They may become thin because they stop eating. Many die close to or in water likely because they are attracted to it as a result of having a high fever. Even though EHD is not transmissible to humans, secondary infections may take advantage of the weakened condition of the animal making it unhealthy for Humans to eat.
The Department of Natural Resources recommends hunters to avoid shooting or eating deer that appear to have the symptoms of EHD The outbreak is usually cut short by the first hard frost, which will kill the disease carrying midges. Luckily for us we have been getting some…