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EHD Outbreak Affecting White-Tailed Deer Population

Credit: Ray F. on Flickr (FLICKR.COM/FETHERBRAIN)
EHD has been reported in white-tail deer in 17 Illinois counties so far this year.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has confirmed nearly 50 cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in white-tailed deer so far in 2015 and more are expected in the coming months.

Doug Dufford, Wildlife Disease/Invasives Program Manager for the Illinois DNR, said EHD seems to be prevalent in west-central Illinois, citing cases in Adams and McDonough counties. He said heavy losses have been reported.

Dufford said EHD is fairly common in Illinois in the warm summer months because the disease is transmitted from deer to deer through midges, a species of biting fly that flourish in dry heat.

“[EHD] happens in the summertime up until the point when we get a killing frost, which kills the midges. Then the transmission of the virus ceases and the outbreak ends,” Dufford said.

EHD is transmitted from deer to deer through midge bites.

  EHD Reports by Year in Illinois

·      2012: 2,043 cases in 76 counties

·      2013: 403 cases in 51 counties

·      2014: No EHD cases reported

·      2015: 47 cases in 17 counties

Dufford added EHD is not always detectable in deer until it’s too late.

“The animal will get feverish, and often times will go towards water because they’re thirsty because of the fever but also to cool off. So a lot of times you’ll find these animals sick or immobile, or even dead, in or near water sources,” Dufford said.

Dufford said EHD can occasionally affect livestock, but doesn’t pose any threat to humans. Deer affected by EHD can still be eaten, as long as the meat is cooked properly.