The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has scheduled a meeting to present information to the public about the scope and impact of an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) on deer in western North Carolina.
“We plan to present information about HD in general, as well as discuss expectations that hunters, landowners, farmers and others can have for this season and future years,” said Chris Kreh, a biologist with the Commission. “This is mainly an informational meeting, though we may provide some recommendations for hunters with specific management goals for deer on their property.”
Biologists are observing an increasing number of hemorrhagic disease cases in white-tailed deer in the western part of the state, especially in Caldwell, Wilkes and Surry counties.
The disease has no human health implications, but is one of the most significant endemic viral and sometimes fatal diseases of white-tailed deer in the southeastern U.S.
Transported by a biting midge (or gnat), the virus enters deer through the blood stream. Common symptoms of sick animals include emaciation, loss of motor control, fever,lameness and swelling of the neck and head.
Infected deer often seek relief near bodies of water, resulting in a higher frequency of dead deer near creeks,rivers and ponds than on adjacent uplands. Investigations of these dead deer usually reveal ulcerations on the tongue, dental pad and palate. The mouth may also be bluish in color and the skin flush or reddish, particularly noticeable on the inside of the legs and belly.
Commission biologists first began seeing deer afflicted with the disease in Wilkes and Surry counties. In August, reports of the disease also began coming from Caldwell, Burke, McDowell, Rutherford and Buncombe counties. The hardest hit counties are Caldwell, Surry and Wilkes.