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Be Alert for EHD Virus in White-Tailed Deer

Posted: September 18, 2012

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is advising hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts to be alert for white-tailed deer that may be experiencing symptoms of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), a virus that spreads among deer through the bites of midge flies but cannot be transmitted to people.

According to the DEP, EHD is strictly a wildlife issue. It can’t be transmitted to people, and humans are not at risk by handling infected deer, being bitten by infected midges or eating meat from deer affected by the virus. It is strongly advised, however, that people refrain from eating meat from any game animal that appears ill.

David Chanda, Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, explains that EHD is common in deer. “It does not spread from deer to deer and outbreaks end with the onset of cold weather, which kills the midges that spread the disease.”

Signs of EHD include difficulty standing, drooling and foaming from the mouth or nose. Dead deer with no apparent wounds observed in or near water may have died as a result of EHD. Deer typically die within 5 to 10 days of infection. Infected deer initially lose their appetite and fear of people. They grow progressively weaker and often salivate excessively.

Deer exhibiting signs of EHD should be reported to the division’s Office of Fish and Wildlife Health Forensics by calling Bill Stansley at 908.236.2118 or Carole Stanko at the Bureau of Wildlife Management at 908.735.7040.