Deer death traced to epizootic hemorrhagic disease


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Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell today announced that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has been confirmed as the cause of death for a deer in Montgomery County.

On Sept. 11, the agency received the carcass of a doe  that had died on the grounds of the Graterford State Correctional Institute, Skippack Township. The deer was one of 19 found to date by the prison’s mounted patrol. The deer carcasses were in various stages of decay, and the majority were found near water.

Tissue samples were submitted to and tested by the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia, which has confirmed the deer mortality was due to a strain of the EHD virus.

"There are no management actions or practices to prevent or limit mortality caused by EHD," Cottrell said. "Fortunately, EHD should be curtailed with the first hard frost, which will kill the midges that are spreading the disease. EHD is a seasonal disease and the affected local deer herd can rebound quickly."

EHD is one of the most common diseases among white-tailed deer in the U.S., and is contracted by the bite of insects called "midges" or "no-see-ums. 

The virus usually kills the animal within five to 10 days, and is not spread directly from deer to deer. While EHD is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD may not be suitable for consumption.

Game Commission Southeast Region Director Doug Killough asked residents to report sightings of sickly-looking deer, particularly those found near water, by calling the region office at 610-926-3136.

 The Southeast Region covers Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.

In addition to Montgomery County, EHD already has been confirmed this year in Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland counties, and is suspected in Cambria and Crawford counties. 

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