Deadly disease spreading among deer

A disease recently noticed in Ohio is finding its way into West Virginia. It’s EHD, and it’s killing local deer.

According to the West Virginia Division of Wildlife resources, a growing number of deer are being found dead, suffering from epizootic hemorrhagic disease. It’s often difficult to detect until it’s too late.

“You really don’t notice any visual signs,” said Steven Rauch. “It’s more internal. If they are going to succumb to it and die from the disease, it happens very quickly.”

TheWest Virginia Department of Natural Resources began to receive calls in the middle of August and it has spread since then. Positive cases of EHD have been found in ten counties in West Virginia, including Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties.

The disease is carried by biting midges, a small type of fly. Rauch says this year’s wet weather has led to more of them in the area.

“They are a common insect, but current weather conditions similar to what we’ve had this year tends to increase their numbers,” Rauch said.

Despite its deadly effect on deer, EHD poses no threat to humans, even if they eat the meat of deer once infected.

“It is not a human health concern at all,” Rauch said. “We cannot get the disease. It’s primarily deer, for the virus that we have isolated. Deer are susceptible to it.”

There is no cure for EHD. If you see any deer affected, you can contact your local wildlife office.

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