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Deer disease hits southern Indiana

Hunting News | Indiana Fishing News

A viral disease called EHD appears to be infecting, and often killing, white-tailed deer in southern Indiana.

EHD is not normally found in domestic animals, and is not transmissible to humans.

Hoosier hunters and landowners have recently been finding and reporting to the Department of Natural Resources an unusual number of dead wild deer in Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Pike, Spencer, Warrick, and Washington counties.

Investigations by DNR biologists point to a viral disease called EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease), transmitted by small flying insects called biting midges.

The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga.
confirmed, from samples submitted by DNR wildlife biologists, that EHD is the cause of some of these mortalities.

Additional samples are being analyzed by SCWDS.

This year's EHD outbreak is starting earlier than in past years, and earlier than last fall's outbreak in west-central Indiana.

Many EHD-infected deer were found last year in Greene, Clay, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, Fountain and Vigo counties.

DNR deer biologists do not expect the outbreak will cause significant deer mortality in areas where the disease hit last fall due to residual immunity in those animals.

However, the early onset of this year's outbreak and drought conditions that provide excellent reproductive conditions for the midges, may lead to significant wild deer mortality in southern Indiana this fall.

"It's likely that a good number of deer have been and will be lost," said DNR Deer Management Biologist Jim Mitchell.

EHD infected animals have also been reported this month in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

EHD causes severe flu-like symptoms in the deer, including a high fever.
Infected deer seek open water in streams or ponds to cool off. Many of the reported dead deer were found near water.

Sick deer may lose their appetite, coordination and their fear of normal dangers. Animals become dehydrated and progressively weaker, with mouth and eye tissue often showing a rosy or bluish color.

Indiana deer hunters are asked to observe deer they intend to take for a brief time. If the deer's posture or behavior indicates the deer may be sick, don't harvest it.

There appears to be no risk associated with direct exposure to or consumption of an EHD-infected deer.

Use common sense when cleaning and preparing any deer. Never kill or eat a sick deer. Use rubber gloves. Be sure meat is cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria or organisms that may be present.

EHD should not be confused with the unrelated brain disease, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which has never been found in Indiana.

EHD usually affects local deer populations until a few hard freezes kill the biting midges that spread the disease.

Hoosiers can report sick deer to their local District Wildlife Biologist, Conservation Officer, or the Board of Animal Health. Contact information is listed in the Indiana Hunting and Trapping Guide and at:
http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/huntguide1/wbiolo.htm

More EHD information:
http://www.in.gov/dnr/deerhealth/EHD_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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