The Ohio Division of Wildlfie is asking cooperation from the public, especially hunters, in regards to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). The disease has been killing white-tailed deer in Michigan and Pennsylvania and has since been found in several Ohio counties with the closest being Lorain. The disease is expected to spread quickly through out Ohio within the next year.
What is EHD?
Existence: Deer fatalities thought to be caused by EHD have been recorded as early as the 1890s. The first positive identification of EHD was in 1955 when hundreds of deer were found dead in both New Jersey and Michigan. EHD has since been tracked in North American but has not caused a significant decrease in the white-tailed deer population. The disease tends to fluctuate with a significant outbreak every five years. Since the last major outbreak was in 2012, researchers are expecting another statewide outbreak in 2017.
Causes & Transmission: EHD is a Hemorrhagic disease that is commonly associated with another Hemorrhagic disease called bluetongue. However, the diseases should not be used interchangeably as they are not the same. EHD is caused by the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus transmitted via the bite of an infected midge. The midges occur in large numbers during late summer and early fall. Consequently, it is during this time that the disease occurs. After the first frost, the midges die off, ceasing the occurrence of new cases of EHD.
Signs: Deer do not show signs of EHD right after being infected. After about a week, however, the deer will show severe swelling in the head, neck, and tongue areas and develop a fever. It will also experience difficulty breathing and loss of appetite. In the more severe case of the disease, the deer begins to develop sores in its mouth and tongue. As the fever worsens, it will seek water which is why fatalities are often found near bodies of water.
There have been no cases of EHD in humans and the disease cannot be transmitted to a human via physical contact with an infected deer. The meat of an infected deer is edible. Follow the obvious rule: If the meat looks fine and smells fine, it’s safe to eat.
What do I do if I find a deer with EHD?
In efforts to monitor EHD in Ohio, the Division of Wildlife is asking the public, hunters especially, to report cases of EHD. Deer that are found dead near water are likely to be infected with EHD. If you suspect you have found or shot a deer with EHD, call your county’s wildlife officer.
Seneca County cases can be reported to wildlife officer Austin Dickinson at (419) 429-8394. If you do not live in Seneca County, click here to view the list of wildlife officers for other counties.
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