EHD, Game Commission Looking Into Deer Deaths in Southwestern Pennsylvania August 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Deer Disease News Archive

Game Commission Looking Into Deer Deaths in Southwestern Pennsylvania August 23, 2012 PGC News Release
     Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officers are investigating the cause of death for more than 35 white-tailed deer in Beaver and Cambria counties. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is suspected.
     Game Commission biologists recently submitted three samples for testing from deer found in Greene Township and Ohioville Borough in Beaver County (one male and one female), and Summerhill Township in Cambria County (one female) to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia. The agency will continue to gather samples from other dead deer being found in other municipalities. Due to decomposition, samples must be collected within 24 hours of the animal’s death for the samples to be viable. Once the results are available, the Game Commission plans to release the findings to the public.
     “While we must wait for test results to confirm just what caused these deer to die, at this time, we are suspecting that the deer died of EHD, based on field signs that we are seeing,” said Dr. Walter Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife veterinarian. He noted that, earlier this month, EHD was confirmed in Oklahoma and Nebraska.
EHD is one of the most common diseases among white-tailed deer in the United States, and is contracted by the bite of insects called “biting midges.” EHD usually kills the animal within five to 10 days, and is not spread from deer to deer. While EHD is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD may not be suitable for consumption.
     Cottrell stressed that even though some EHD symptoms are similar to those of chronic wasting disease (CWD) – such as excessive drooling, unconsciousness and a loss of fear of humans – there is no relationship between EHD and CWD.
Cottrell also pointed out that EHD should be curtailed with the first hard frost, which will kill the insects that are spreading the disease. He noted that EHD, unlike CWD, is a seasonal disease and the affected local deer herd can rebound quickly.

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