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EHD spread tracked in several counties

EHD spread tracked in several counties

By New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Nassau, Oswego, Suffolk and Ulster counties. DEC is tracking suspected cases in Albany, Jefferson, Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties and new reports of dead deer to track the spread and estimate the number of deer succumbing to this disease.

To date, DEC has received reports of approximately 700 dead deer.

EHD virus is typically a fatal disease for deer that is transmitted by biting midges, small insects sometimes called no-see-ums or punkies. The disease is not spread from deer to deer and humans cannot be infected by deer or bites from midges.

Once infected with EHD virus, deer usually die within 36 hours. EHD outbreaks are most common in the late summer and early fall when midges are abundant, although initial cases this year were detected in late July. Signs of the EHD virus include fever, hemorrhage in muscles or organs, and swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips. A deer infected with EHD may appear lame or dehydrated.

Frequently, infected deer seek water, and many succumb near a water source. There is no treatment or means to prevent EHD. Dead deer do not serve as a source of infection for other animals. EHD has been in New York since July and has had time to circulate and spread prior to the first killing frosts. Consequently, it has been more widespread this year than during previous outbreaks.

EHD outbreaks do not have a significant long-term impact on regional deer populations, but deer mortality can be significant in small geographic areas.

EHD is endemic in the southern states, and some southern deer have developed immunity. In the northeast, EHD outbreaks occur sporadically and deer in New York have no immunity to this virus. Consequently, most EHD-infected deer in New York are expected to die. The first hard frost is expected to kill the midges that transmit the disease, ending the EHD outbreak.

Sightings of sick or dead deer suspected of having EHD can be reported to DEC via a new online EHD reporting form, also available via DEC's website or by contacting the nearest DEC Regional Wildlife Office.

EHD virus was first confirmed in New York deer in 2007, with relatively small outbreaks in Albany, Rensselaer and Niagara counties, and in Rockland County in 2011. From early September to late October 2020, a large EHD outbreak occurred in the lower Hudson Valley, centered in Putnam and Orange counties, with an estimated 1,500 deer mortalities.

For more information, visit the EHD webpage.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd