We have been receiving more and more reports of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD)
showing up in whitetails this past week in southern Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Virginia and West Virginia.
Some reports out of Illinois have some farmers finding dead deer by the dozens. For
example, one D&DH reader reported finding 30 dead deer on one 400-acre farm in
southern Illinois. The disease has also hammered captive deer herds, with some operations
losing 90 percent of their herds in a matter of days.
EHD, also known as “blue tongue,” is contracted by biting midges, or gnats. The tiny
flies transmit the virus from infected to uninfected animals as the deer eat or drink
water at concentrated sources. Droughts compound the problem, because deer congregate
at streams and ponds. In these cases, one sick deer can mean a death sentence for
all the others, because the gnats will feed on the sick deer and then bite and infect
the nearby healthy deer.
EHD is not a threat to humans, and the disease disappears at the first killing frost
of the season, which wipes out the insect hosts.