Albany, NY - September 11th, 2013 - This is the time of year when we are most likely to see Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) cases in white tailed deer. EHD is a viral disease of white-tailed deer that is transmitted by the biting midge in the family Culicoides. EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when the midges are abundant. In deer, the symptoms of EHD include fever, small hemorrhages or bruises in the mouth and nose, and swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips. A deer infected with EHD may appear lame or dehydrated. Frequently, infected deer will seek out water sources and many succumb near a water source. An infected deer may die within 1-3 days after being bitten by the midge or the disease may progress more slowly over weeks or months. Often a large number of dead or sick deer are found in a limited area. There is no treatment and no means of prevention for EHD. The dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals because the virus is not long lived in dead animals. EHD does not infect humans, and EHD rarely causes illness in domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, dogs and cats.
Historically EHD has been common in the southeastern US, but in recent years the frequency of outbreaks in the northern US has increased. Southern deer appear to have some immunity to EHD, while in Northern states large die offs are reported. Last year the disease had significant impacts on wild deer herds in the Midwest. Michigan reported nearly 15,000 deer affected. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have both had recurring outbreaks, most recently in 2012.
In New York, the first cases of EHD were confirmed in 2007 in Albany, Rensselaer and Niagara counties, affecting several dozen deer. A larger outbreak occurred in Rockland County in 2011 and may have killed about 100 deer. No cases of EHD were found in NY in 2012 and no cases have yet been reported in 2013.
For more information about EHD in NY, click here.