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Deer Deaths Due to Viral Disease

Aug 17, 2012 07:01 AM EDT

The viral disease that has been first confirmed in Ionia and northern Branch counties as a main cause for the death of deer. And recently The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health have announced EHD in six other counties that include Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Clinton, Eaton and Montcalm.

The climatic change is one prime reason for the world-wide increase of EHD outbreaks. Most often this viral disease is seen in wild ruminants and makes them prone to extensive internal bleeding within deer and is transmitted by a midge, or type of biting fly.

Signs of the disease include lack of appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, salivate excessively and finally become unconscious.  Due to a high fever, infected deer often are found sick or dead along or in bodies of water. There is no evidence that humans can contract the EHD virus.

Accoridng to the DNR report EHD outbreaks in Michigan was noticed every years since 2006. It is stimated that nearly 50 to 1000 deer are lost every year in the affected areas.

"We are seeing a large die-off of deer in local areas," Tom Cooley, a DNR wildlife biologist and pathologist, said in a statement. "Although it is difficult to see so many dead deer, this is still a localized issue and the regional deer population should not be impacted."

Hunters will notices a drop in the number of deers especially in the affected areas. Till date there has been no effective treatment for EHD.

Deer have built up resistance in areas where the disease has been common, enabling their population to recover from an outbreak relatively quickly. That's not the case in Michigan; they do not have the benefit of these antibodies.  So some areas may experience severe drop-offs and need a few years to return to normal. 

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