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EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) in White-tail Deer

Monday, August 15, 2011
Fish & Wildlife - Region 7
This news release was archived on Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reports from a few Montana locations indicate EHD has surfaced in the resident white-tailed deer populations. Reports of EHD deaths have come from Billings, in the Glendive area along the Yellowstone River and east of Roundup on the Musselshell River. Locally dead deer have been found along the Tongue River above 12 Mile Dam Fishing Access Site and in the Kinsey area.
 
Fish, Wildlife and Parks, program manager John Ensign said, “I am sure we will continue to receive reports from several locations where white-tails live in southeastern Montana. There is not much we can do as EHD is a viral infection carried by a biting midge that white-tailed deer are especially vulnerable to, there is no human health risk and we will have to wait until after the first killing frost for this situation to mitigate.” It can be reasonably predicted that dead deer may start showing up all along the river and creek corridors in southeastern Montana.
 
EHD is an infectious viral disease of white-tailed deer and outbreaks can occur annually. EHD and the bluetongue virus are basically indistinguishable. Biting midges transmit both diseases and the disease is seasonal and usually occurs late summer or early fall. A hard freeze can kill the insects and stop the spread of the disease.
 
Usually EHD infects the deer and incubates for 7 – 10 days and when the virus matures it results in death within 24 hours. Normally infected deer gravitate to water.  No extensive die-offs have been reported in southeastern Montana to date.
 
Humans are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer or being bitten by infected flies. In handling deer, normal precautions should be taken; wear gloves and wash well after handling. 
 
Information is limited concerning the affect of EHD in domestic livestock. EHD virus has been isolated from sick cattle and surveys have shown that cattle often have antibodies to this virus, indicating frequent exposure.
Contact your local warden or biologist or the Miles City FWP office @ 234-0900 should abnormal acting or dead deer be noticed.