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Deadly deer disease spreads to Indiana

Posted: 8:20 AM, Aug 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-15 08:21:20-04
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CLARK COUNTY — A deadly deer disease has made its way into the state of Indiana.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says lab results taken from dead deer in Clark County came back positive for Epizootic Hemorragraphic disease.

EHD is a viral disease that may affect white-tailed deer to some degree every year. It typically occurs during late summer and early fall, and there is evidence that outbreaks may be worse during drought years. EHD is transmitted by flies commonly known as biting midges, sand gnats, and “no-see-ums.”

Humans are not at risk for contracting EHD.

Conservation officers say during an EHD outbreak, the loss of deer locally can range from just a few to more than 50 percent.

Experts, like wildlife veterinarian Dr. Nancy Boedeker, say it's hard to predict just how bad this year's outbreak will get.

Hemorrhagic disease is often fatal to deer, but some will survive the illness. Not every deer in an affected area will contract hemorrhagic disease.

"It's a combination of factors related to the deer itself, to the strain of the virus itself, to what the midges are doing, to the environment. But, in more significant outbreaks, you can have relatively high mortality or death of deer in a local area," Boedeker said. “Deer infected with EHD may appear depressed or weak and often seek out water. Other signs may include a blue-tinged tongue, swelling of the head, neck or eyelids, ulcers on the tongue and the oral cavity, or sloughed hooves."

Indiana's last major EHD outbreak was in 2012.

DNR is tracking the disease's spread across the state. They ask anyone who sees a deer that appears sick or shows symptoms of EHD to report it directly to them.

“If you see a deer that you suspect may have died from EHD, you can report it directly to the DNR through our website at deer.dnr.IN.gov,” Caudell said. “Just click on the link for Report a Dead or Sick Deer.”