EHD Suspected in Whitetail Deaths

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State wildlife officials reported today a localized outbreak of what is suspected to be a common white-tailed deer disease in Clermont and Brown counties. Approximately 100 deer may have been affected by the outbreak.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife have sent samples to be analyzed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Reynoldsburg. It is speculated that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is the source of the illnesses.

State wildlife officials stress to those planning on hunting in these areas this fall that although this disease does not affect humans nor impact the safety of consumed deer, hunters should report deer that appear to be sick or diseased to their local wildlife officer. Deer that appear unhealthy should not as a rule be taken for human food. State animal health officials stressed that the outbreak is not related to Chronic Wasting Disease.

White-tailed deer contract epizootic hemorrhagic disease from the bite of gnats which live near water. The onset of cold weather suppresses the disease and frosts drive the gnats into winter inactivity.

The disease is not spread from deer to deer or from deer to humans. Once infected, deer show symptoms within five to 10 days. Infected deer initially lose appetite and fear of man, grow progressively weaker, often salivate excessively and become unconscious. Many deer die within 36 hours of the onset of symptoms. According to the University of Georgia's annual Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, epizootic hemorrhagic disease is the most common ailment affecting deer in the Eastern United States. This disease occurs annually in deer herds across North America. Outbreaks of the disease have occurred in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia.

Last year there was an outbreak in Gallia, Meigs, and Vinton counties. Suspected cases occurred in Ohio in Greene County in 1997 and in Muskingum County in 1980. The disease is common in portions of the northern Great Plains and the Southeastern United States. It was first identified in 1955 in New Jersey.

White-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope are susceptible to epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Domestic cattle and other livestock are generally not at risk. Livestock owners finding animals with similar symptoms are advised to contact their veterinarians.