Deer Hemorrhagic Disease

This Is Time Of Year When Deer Sometimes Fall Prey To EHD

It's that time of year when people begin to find dead deer in or near water which have died from Epizoontic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) or Blue Tongue Virus (BTV). Both EHD and BTV are clinically very similar, so the general term Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is used. 

HD is a common virus that is seen in white-tailed deer in the late summer and early fall. The virus is transmitted by a biting midge commonly known as No-see-ums. Transmission only occurs by an infected midge and not from deer to deer. Percentage of the affected deer population can vary greatly. Once bitten, onset of the disease occurs quickly and death may occur within 36 hours. Clinical signs of HD include: lose of appetite, lethargy, weakness, respiratory distress, swelling of the head, neck, eyes & tongue, dehydration and fever. Deer frequently seek water sources to reduce their body temperature. As the disease progresses, the deer become unconscious and suffer severe internal hemorrhaging. 

Some deer can survive HD but will be lethargic, emaciated, have ulcers and scars on the rumen lining. Deer that survive will also have breaks or rings in the hooves which might cause the deer to be lame. Deer that have survived and are harvested during the hunting can be identified by their hooves. 

There is no treatment for HD because it is seasonal and transmission ends after the first frost. It's important to remember that humans do not get HD and affected deer populations will recover.

For more information here is a link to the Southeastern Wildlife Disease Study's brochure